The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

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The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Thu Oct 10, 2019 8:17 am

Someone might find this interesting, a little historical information about an early preacher at one of the oldest Baptist churches in Texas.

To Elders Isaac Reed and Robert G. Green go the credit for organizing the Union Baptist Church (now called Old North Baptist Church) four miles of north of Nacogdoches, Texas on May 6, 1838. To Elder James L. Bryant goes the, the, well…inattention? That may not be so much the fault of historians as it is the lack of information about James L. Bryant. All we know of him fits in a five-year window, mostly from the minutes of the Union Baptist Church. So, what do we know about Elder Bryant? From whence came he?[i.] Where did he go? Where was he born, and when did he die? We may not be able to answer these questions satisfactorily, but perhaps we can mine and discover small bits of gold.

J. L. Bryant was possibly the first pastor of Union Church, though that position is traditionally ascribed to Isaac Reed.[v] The compilation of the First Book of Church Minutes 1838-1872 gives Isaac Reed as pastor from 1838 to 1847 (page iv). This conclusion seems to originally come from that given by A. J. Holt in A Brief History of Union Baptist Church (Old North Church). Isaac Reed’s name does not appear again in the Union minutes after the first entry (First Sabbath in May 1838, p. 1) until February 1840.[vi] On the other hand, the name of James or J. L. Bryant appears July 1838, August 1838, September 1838, January 1840, February 1840, March 1840, April 1840, May 1840, June 1840, July 1840, August 1840, October 1840, January 1841, February 1841, April 1841, May 1841, and June 1841 – every recorded conference minute from July 1838 through June 1841, except December 1839.[vii] In July of 1838, “James L. Bryant commemorated the Lord’s supper on sabbath.” According to S. F. Sparks, Elder Bryant also baptized the first candidates – some 20 in all.[viii] These facts suggest he may have been the pastor rather than Isaac Reed.

J. L. Bryant is the preacher “called out” by Elder Daniel Parker. In two different publications – one private and one public – Bryant incurred the wrath of Daniel Parker. In church conference Saturday May 11, 1839, the Union Church prepared and approved [url-https://archive.org/details/jstor-30243073]a letter to her sister Hopewell Church[/url] in Nacogdoches County, warning against “some who trouble you” and might “bring you into disorder.” These some are “Elder Bryant together with the members composing what is called a church, in Sparkes.s Settlement north of Nacogdoches.” The manner of address suggests that “Elder Bryant” is the shepherd of the congregation in the Sparks Settlement (Union Church), and shows that Parker identifies these people as “Seperate Baptist.” When the Union Association, with which Parker and his Pilgrim Church identified, convened in October 1844, the circular included “the disorder of the Union Baptist church of Nacogdoches county, which church holds a number of members who were baptized by a Mr. Bryant, a man who had no ordained or legal authority to administer the ordinances of the gospel.”

Click link below to read the entire article:
Elder James L. Bryant: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

[i.] I found three men named James Bryant in the 1830 census in the general vicinity of the Mount Zion Association of Separate Baptists – two in Lincoln County and one in Marion County. One of the two in Lincoln County seems to be in Lincoln in 1840 and Franklin in 1850, so he can probably be discounted. “Our” James L. Bryant might be one of the other two. This assumes, of course, that he was already in that area by 1830 – which we actually do not know for sure.
[v] At least one other reader interpreted Parker’s words and actions to mean Bryant was the pastor of Union. “Sometime later, Hopewell Baptist church had some trouble with Union Baptist Church pastored by Elder Bryant of the Separate Baptist order.” – Authorized Church Constitution Versus Direct Authority, Mark W. Fenison, 2013, p. 146.
[vi] To be fair, there are several conferences either not held or not recorded between May 1838 and February 1840. However, of those in the record – June 1838, July 1838, August 1838, September 1838, December 1839, January 1840 – the name of Isaac Reed is not mentioned. The minutes only specifically state he was chosen as pastor in February 1842. No specific mention of choosing as pastor is noticed again until December 1844, when David Lewis was chosen. However, the 1844 minutes of the Sabine Baptist Association lists Lemuel Herrin as pastor, suggesting he might have been chosen in the previous year (1843).
[vii] J. M. Carroll writes, “Concerning Elder Bryant, we could learn very little. He seems to have become a member, soon after its organization, of Union (Old North) Church and to have assisted Pastor Reed in some of the official work of that church. The only definite record we find of him is in the minutes of Parker’s Pilgrim Church.” (A History of Texas Baptists, p.113) Apparently Carroll means any definite record other than the minutes of the Union Baptist Church.
[viii] “Recollections of S. F. Sparks,” July 1, 1908, The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, pp. 77-78.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:01 am

Danial Parker rings a bell, though I can't remember why. My knowledge for Texas Baptist history is scant.

Am I reading correctly that Parker criticized the new pastor because he started a church without someone's permission? (Whose? The Association?)
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:04 am

Now I remember, wasn't Danial Parker part of the anti-missionary movement? I'm thinking he preached in Indiana around the time some Baptist associations were forming there. One of my previous pastorates joined the "Union Missionary Baptist Association" to remove itself from an anti-missions association that formed under Parker's leadership, if I'm remembering right. (That is really digging into some old brain cells!)
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:40 pm

Yes, that is the same Daniel Parker. They formed the Pilgrim Church in Illinois in 1833, and moved to Texas, arriving in Austin's Colony January 1834. Was the previous pastorate you mention in Texas? If so, what church was it? There were two Union Associations formed in Texas in 1840, one was missionary (the Independence Church where Baylor started was in it) and the other was started by Daniel Parker and others?
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:23 pm

https://www.baptiststandard.com/news/te ... th-church/

It's been a while back, but when teaching 7th grade at a Christian school in Texas affiliated with San Felipe association, we did a three day field trip for our Texas History class that included some of the Baptist origins and roots in Texas and the Old North Church was one of the stops. It was always interesting to explain to students that some Baptists don't like other Baptists for various reasons which have worked themselves into their modern existence. It gets very interesting when you go down to Independence, Texas where the history of the Texas Republic, the state of Texas and the Baptists all merge together into a very interesting story.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:23 pm

Rvaughn wrote:Yes, that is the same Daniel Parker. They formed the Pilgrim Church in Illinois in 1833, and moved to Texas, arriving in Austin's Colony January 1834. Was the previous pastorate you mention in Texas? If so, what church was it? There were two Union Associations formed in Texas in 1840, one was missionary (the Independence Church where Baylor started was in it) and the other was started by Daniel Parker and others?


The church was in Petersburg, Indiana. The American Baptist Association in the are to this day is called Union Association. I was its moderator for a time many moons ago.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:24 pm

Sandy wrote:https://www.baptiststandard.com/news/texas/journey-to-nacogdoches-massie-millard-and-the-old-north-church/

It's been a while back, but when teaching 7th grade at a Christian school in Texas affiliated with San Felipe association, we did a three day field trip for our Texas History class that included some of the Baptist origins and roots in Texas and the Old North Church was one of the stops. It was always interesting to explain to students that some Baptists don't like other Baptists for various reasons which have worked themselves into their modern existence. It gets very interesting when you go down to Independence, Texas where the history of the Texas Republic, the state of Texas and the Baptists all merge together into a very interesting story.


In some ways "Baptist" is a broader term then "Methodist." With Baptists being autonomous it appears to me that many more Baptist bodies have come into existence than Methodist bodies.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Haruo » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:32 pm

Tim Bonney wrote:The American Baptist Association in the are to this day is called Union Association. I was its moderator for a time many moons ago.

That's an ABCUSA Association (i.e. constituent organization below Regional level), right? Not ABA. I somehow can't see you as a big Landmarker.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:03 pm

Rvaughn wrote:Yes, that is the same Daniel Parker. They formed the Pilgrim Church in Illinois in 1833, and moved to Texas, arriving in Austin's Colony January 1834. Was the previous pastorate you mention in Texas? If so, what church was it? There were two Union Associations formed in Texas in 1840, one was missionary (the Independence Church where Baylor started was in it) and the other was started by Daniel Parker and others?


The Union Association in Texas currently covers the Harris County portion of the greater Houston Area. In terms of number of affiliated churches and total membership, it is the largest association of Southern Baptist churches in the country, larger than at least half of the state conventions affiliated with the SBC. Independence Baptist Church, in Independence where Baylor was founded, is now in the Independence Association. Old North Baptist Church is part of the Shelby Doches Baptist Association which is now a group of churches affiliated with two state Baptist conventions including both the Texas Baptist Convention (formerly BGCT) and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and even though it is one of the oldest Baptist churches in the state, has uniquely aligned with the SBCT, as is the case with most of the Southern Baptist churches in East Texas with smaller memberships.

The Independence Baptist Church in Independence claims the title of "oldest continuously existing Bapt ist church in Texas." http://www.independencetx.com/Independe ... Church.htm They give their founding date as 1839. But this website https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/cco05 says Old North, originally Union Baptist Church, was founded May 6, 1838, almost a year prior to the Independence church. Both are noted as Missionary Baptist, both were affiliated early on with the state convention and the SBC so I'm not sure why there's a discrepancy. There is also a "First" Baptist Church in Nacogdoches which dates back to the 1880's, not nearly as old, but I guess since it is actually in town and not four miles out as Old North is, they can claim the First Baptist title.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:17 pm

Tim Bonney wrote:The church was in Petersburg, Indiana. The American Baptist Association in the are to this day is called Union Association. I was its moderator for a time many moons ago.
Like Leland, I'm guessing you are talking about American Baptist Churches USA rather than what we know as the American Baptist Association here in the South.

That's interesting about the church dodging Parker. Will have to look that up in more detail when I have a chance.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:49 pm

Sandy wrote:The Union Association in Texas currently covers the Harris County portion of the greater Houston Area. In terms of number of affiliated churches and total membership, it is the largest association of Southern Baptist churches in the country, larger than at least half of the state conventions affiliated with the SBC. Independence Baptist Church, in Independence where Baylor was founded, is now in the Independence Association. Old North Baptist Church is part of the Shelby Doches Baptist Association which is now a group of churches affiliated with two state Baptist conventions including both the Texas Baptist Convention (formerly BGCT) and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and even though it is one of the oldest Baptist churches in the state, has uniquely aligned with the SBCT, as is the case with most of the Southern Baptist churches in East Texas with smaller memberships.
The geographical drift of associations is an interesting thing in itself. The old Central Association, which was formed after the Sabine Association (which Union/Old North and others were in) dissolved in 1849, originally had many churches in our area in it. As other associations were formed over the years, Central wound up with only churches two or three counties to the south of us.

Sandy wrote:The Independence Baptist Church in Independence claims the title of "oldest continuously existing Baptist church in Texas." http://www.independencetx.com/Independe ... Church.htm They give their founding date as 1839. But this website https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/cco05 says Old North, originally Union Baptist Church, was founded May 6, 1838, almost a year prior to the Independence church. Both are noted as Missionary Baptist, both were affiliated early on with the state convention and the SBC so I'm not sure why there's a discrepancy.
Yes, that is odd. I thought it was pretty commonly known in the SBC in Texas that Old North is the oldest missionary Baptist church still in existence. I've seen several articles in The Baptist Standard that has mentioned that fact. Here is one of them:
https://www.baptiststandard.com/news/texas/journey-to-nacogdoches-massie-millard-and-the-old-north-church/

Independence might be able to support the claim if they make it on the technicality of being the oldest continuously existing missionary Baptist church in Texas, that was organized as missionary Baptist. But I think there are a few others that still exist and have an 1839 constitution (would have to check on that). A curiosity not often acknowledged is that, although Union/Old North is the oldest active missionary Baptist Church in Texas, it was not organized as a missionary Baptist church. Both Isaac Reed and R.G. Green, the members of the organizing presbytery, opposed societal or board-type mission methods. Old North was not Primitive, but was originally anti-missionary society (both Z. N. Morrell & J. M. Carroll make a big point of that) and they (churches like Union) then used the term "missionary Baptist" to refer to those who supported the work of the American Baptist Missionary Union (or whatever was their correct name at that time) and then later the Southern Baptist Home and Foreign Missions.

However, neither Old North nor Independence can make the claim of being the oldest Baptist church, unless one "unBaptists" the old Pilgrim Church in Elkhart, which has continuously existed since 1833 (and since 1834 in Texas) and still exists.
Sandy wrote:There is also a "First" Baptist Church in Nacogdoches which dates back to the 1880's, not nearly as old, but I guess since it is actually in town and not four miles out as Old North is, they can claim the First Baptist title.
Yes, the First Baptist Church was organized to have a church in the town of Nacogdoches, about 1884, I think. My paternal grandfather's first cousin was and still is the youngest man to ever pastor First Baptist of Nacogdoches (circa 1911, I believe). A few years after the Convention split in Texas (1899-1900), he cast his lot with the Southern Baptists, much to the consternation of many in his church, community, and family. Apparently he was a rising star in the BGCT, before his young life was cut short by spinal meningitis.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Sandy » Sun Oct 13, 2019 11:09 pm

Rvaughn wrote: However, neither Old North nor Independence can make the claim of being the oldest Baptist church, unless one "unBaptists" the old Pilgrim Church in Elkhart, which has continuously existed since 1833 (and since 1834 in Texas) and still exists.


When I first started teaching in Christian school in Houston, I had a couple of students whose parents grew up in the old Pilgrim Baptist church and helped start a Primitive Baptist congregation they attended in Houston. By definition, they did not consider the rest of us "Baptists" as part of the same denominational family even though we had the name "Baptist" in common. Even though they sent their children to a Christian school that was operated by a Southern Baptist church, they did not consider us as theological relatives. I think I read somewhere that the Old Pilgrim church is connected with the two-seed in the spirit predestinarian Baptists, which is a pretty finely tuned doctrinal position.

Texans take their history very seriously, whether it's the roots of their church and denominational background or the history of the area's colonization, independence as a Republic and eventual statehood. When I first moved to Texas, I lived in Brazoria County, which was where the original settlers of Austin's colony first settled, along the Brazos River near the town of San Felipe. I had my Texas history students research and write about the founding of their church. One of them reported that his church was founded as a Sunday School group which met in San Felipe starting in 1824. The Mexican government did not allow Protestant churches to form or exist in Texas but the claim is that this group met regularly and eventually formed into what is now the First Baptist Church of Richmond. I don't know that they have any supporting documentation, the students cited a couple of older members, one designated as "church historian." There's another Baptist church in Brazoria that claims to have started in the 1820's as a Sunday School because the Mexican government wouldn't allow Protestant churches to exist. I don't know that either church can document those claims or that they "continuously existed" since that time. In that part of the state, the Civil War was very hard on churches and many of them did not meet for extended periods of time.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:05 am

Haruo wrote:
Tim Bonney wrote:The American Baptist Association in the are to this day is called Union Association. I was its moderator for a time many moons ago.

That's an ABCUSA Association (i.e. constituent organization below Regional level), right? Not ABA. I somehow can't see you as a big Landmarker.


Right, not ABA. I forget about them. They don't exist in Indiana. Or, if they do, I never ran across one.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:07 am

Rvaughn wrote:
That's interesting about the church dodging Parker. Will have to look that up in more detail when I have a chance.


It was an interesting period of history. Also at some point along the way in the north most Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern Baptists (now ABC/USA.) So there was very little Calvinism in any part of the ABC I served in. I had folks in Des Moines who had no idea what Calvinism is and when I tried to explain it were incredulous that anyone held those views.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:27 am

Tim Bonney wrote:It was an interesting period of history. Also at some point along the way in the north most Free Will Baptists merged with the Northern Baptists (now ABC/USA.) So there was very little Calvinism in any part of the ABC I served in. I had folks in Des Moines who had no idea what Calvinism is and when I tried to explain it were incredulous that anyone held those views.
That's not surprising, considering the North's faster move away from Calvinism and the Freewill Baptist merger. Even in our area, though, many missionary Baptists are bumfuzzled by the idea that some of their forefathers were Calvinists -- in fact, some reject the idea altogether, just refuse to believe it could be so.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:28 am

Sandy wrote:When I first started teaching in Christian school in Houston, I had a couple of students whose parents grew up in the old Pilgrim Baptist church and helped start a Primitive Baptist congregation they attended in Houston.
Interesting, do you know what church that was? I am not aware of any church in Houston proper that fellowships with Old Pilgrim. We used to sing at Zion’s Rest at Tomball, but they have been disbanded for several years now.
Sandy wrote:By definition, they did not consider the rest of us "Baptists" as part of the same denominational family even though we had the name "Baptist" in common. Even though they sent their children to a Christian school that was operated by a Southern Baptist church, they did not consider us as theological relatives.
That is true of many folks within the Primitive Baptist family, and many missionary Baptists return the favor (of believing the Primitive Baptist are not part of the same denominational family). However, that is not historically accurate. In early Texas history, it can be demonstrated from church and associational records that quite a few preachers, members, and churches moved back and forth between various factions. In some cases, Daniel Parker would be a case in point, the move had to be sanctioned by a “restoration of order” and maybe sometimes even baptism, but in other cases where the shibboleth was not quite as strict, people moved more freely between. The old Sabine Association is one case in point, when it originally was an association made up of churches that held both “missionary” and “anti-missionary” viewpoints. Daniel Parker organized Bethel, one of the churches that constituted the Sabine Association in 1843. Thomas Hanks, who followed Daniel Parker as pastor at Pilgrim, was once a member of the Union (Old North) Church. William Sparks was a deacon in the Hopewell Church in Nacogdoches County, one of the constituting churches in Parker’s Union Association, before the Union Church was formed in 1838 – which church he then joined. This may be history that both sides would prefer to forget, but it is documented history, nevertheless.
Sandy wrote:I think I read somewhere that the Old Pilgrim church is connected with the two-seed in the spirit predestinarian Baptists, which is a pretty finely tuned doctrinal position.
The Pilgrim Church is not connected with what is left of the present two-seed-in-the-spirit denomination of Predestinarian Baptists. They fellowship with other Primitive Baptists who hold the absolute predestination of all things, but apparently rejected the “two-seed” doctrine fairly soon after Daniel Parker’s death. I am pretty sure I remember reading a letter from Benjamin Parker (Daniel’s son) to Gilbert Beebe and the Signs of the Times in which B. Parker denied his or his church holding the two-seed doctrine. He was pastor from 1864-1896.
Sandy wrote:Texans take their history very seriously, whether it's the roots of their church and denominational background or the history of the area's colonization, independence as a Republic and eventual statehood. When I first moved to Texas, I lived in Brazoria County, which was where the original settlers of Austin's colony first settled, along the Brazos River near the town of San Felipe.
Stephen F. Austin was originally buried in what is Brazoria County. The land settled by the “Old 300” may have spread out over what is now several counties, but San Felipe de Austin, the “capital” of Austin’s Colony, was in what is Austin County. I assume Austin and Brazoria counties were original counties when Texas became a Republic, but would have to look that up to be certain.
Sandy wrote:I had my Texas history students research and write about the founding of their church. One of them reported that his church was founded as a Sunday School group which met in San Felipe starting in 1824. The Mexican government did not allow Protestant churches to form or exist in Texas but the claim is that this group met regularly and eventually formed into what is now the First Baptist Church of Richmond. I don't know that they have any supporting documentation, the students cited a couple of older members, one designated as "church historian." There's another Baptist church in Brazoria that claims to have started in the 1820's as a Sunday School because the Mexican government wouldn't allow Protestant churches to exist.
That’s very interesting. I can’t speak directly to either of these cases, other than to say I doubt there is any documentation for these claims. I am aware of the “official history” that Thomas J. Pilgrim at San Felipe started the first Sunday school in Texas in 1829. The official story is also that it had to be discontinued because it violated Mexican law. Personally, I would doubt that the Mexican government made much distinction between the gathering of a Protestant church or a Protestant Sunday School. Both would have been illegal, in my understanding. However, the state of Coahuila y Tejas did relax state regulations in 1834 to not molest a religious gathering of those not otherwise causing any harm (not exactly how it was worded, but I think that captures the intent). Afterwards (in 1834), Abner Smith and Isaac Crouch organized a Baptist Church called Providence, near Bastrop. It is often forgotten because it was “anti-missionary” and doesn’t still exist today. It was the first Baptist Church organized on Texas soil (since Pilgrim was organized in Illinois).
Sandy wrote:I don't know that either church can document those claims or that they "continuously existed" since that time.
I think for the most part historians make some allowances for and differences in “continuously existed” versus “continuously met” – as in some churches may have missed regular meetings for a time, meetings were sometimes disrupted and flocks scattered for a time, but the books were kept and the church did not dissolve – so usually would still be considered a “continuous” church from its time of organization.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Sandy » Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:38 am

Actually, there are several churches in the Brazoria County-Fort Bend County area that mention the Sunday School at San Felipe in their church histories. That may just be their claim to some connection with the origins of Protestant churches in Austin's Colony without any real documentation. The church I served as youth pastor back in the 1980's in Brazoria county connected its founding to a Sunday school that met on the banks of Oyster Creek in 1836. So did three other Baptist churches in the association.

It's been a long time since I started teaching in the Christian school in Houston where I had the students from the Primitive Baptist church. I don't recall whether the church they helped start was "in fellowship" with any other church or group of churches. I remember having a conversation with their Dad about Primitive Baptists and their connections. I must admit it seemed complicated to me at the time and I didn't really get the differences. A few summers before that, while working along the West Virginia-Kentucky border selling books door to door, I had encountered a lot of Primitive Baptists of different associations along with a lot of "Old Ragerlars" as they called themselves, all very similar in the way they expressed themselves but very careful to distinguish themselves by association from other churches. Not being critical with my observation, it just seems to me that there is a lot more separation on the finer points of doctrine than you'd find among just about any other group of Baptists with the possible exception of the IFB's.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Wed Oct 16, 2019 11:13 am

Sandy wrote:Actually, there are several churches in the Brazoria County-Fort Bend County area that mention the Sunday School at San Felipe in their church histories. That may just be their claim to some connection with the origins of Protestant churches in Austin's Colony without any real documentation. The church I served as youth pastor back in the 1980's in Brazoria county connected its founding to a Sunday school that met on the banks of Oyster Creek in 1836. So did three other Baptist churches in the association.
Under the circumstances I wouldn't doubt that some churches owe their origins to a Sunday School meeting. A lot of the stories of the Old North Church include the Aunt Massie Millard prayer meetings in the background of their history.
Sandy wrote:It's been a long time since I started teaching in the Christian school in Houston where I had the students from the Primitive Baptist church. I don't recall whether the church they helped start was "in fellowship" with any other church or group of churches. I remember having a conversation with their Dad about Primitive Baptists and their connections. I must admit it seemed complicated to me at the time and I didn't really get the differences. A few summers before that, while working along the West Virginia-Kentucky border selling books door to door, I had encountered a lot of Primitive Baptists of different associations along with a lot of "Old Ragerlars" as they called themselves, all very similar in the way they expressed themselves but very careful to distinguish themselves by association from other churches. Not being critical with my observation, it just seems to me that there is a lot more separation on the finer points of doctrine than you'd find among just about any other group of Baptists with the possible exception of the IFB's.
I am aware of some of what are called Old-Line Primitive Baptist churches in Houston, but have lost track of whether there are any Primitive Baptist churches of the tribe considered Absolute Predestinarian (which is what Pilgrim Church is). The main dividing point (though certainly not the only one) is that Old-Line Primitive Baptists believe that predestination only relates to salvation -- as in elected and predestinated to eternal salvation -- while the Absolute Predestinarian churches hold "the Absolute Predestination of All Things." These latter churches, especially, (that I know of in Texas) have been really torn up over how to deal with the issue of divorce and remarriage, and I wouldn't doubt that the outlying churches in places like Houston (formed through migration without a deep historical connection to their places of worship) are no longer in existence. But you never know. These churches also have a way of flying way under the radar, especially if they meet in homes.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:41 pm

Rvaughn wrote:\Absolute Predestinarian (which is what Pilgrim Church is). The main dividing point (though certainly not the only one) is that Old-Line Primitive Baptists believe that predestination only relates to salvation -- as in elected and predestinated to eternal salvation -- while the Absolute Predestinarian churches hold "the Absolute Predestination of All Things." These latter churches, especially, (that I know of in Texas) have been really torn up over how to deal with the issue of divorce and remarriage, and I wouldn't doubt that the outlying churches in places like Houston (formed through migration without a deep historical connection to their places of worship) are no longer in existence. But you never know. These churches also have a way of flying way under the radar, especially if they meet in homes.


I'm not a Calvinist. But I think it would be pretty hard to argue for a "Predestination in All Things" without making God doer of evil. While I don't believe in predestination for salvation, I think at least a Biblical argument that doesn't make God out to be the bad guy is possible. (But heck, I'm an Arminian, so I know I've got a predetermined prejudice against Calvinism.)
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:12 pm

I don't want to go too far down this trail, since I only meant to establish a primary difference between two different kinds of Primitive Baptists. Whether God is the author of sin is certainly a debate related to absolute predestination, and one that I suppose goes back for Baptists at least to the Second London Baptist Confession.
3.1 Of God's Decree
God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:47 pm

Rvaughn wrote:I don't want to go too far down this trail, since I only meant to establish a primary difference between two different kinds of Primitive Baptists. Whether God is the author of sin is certainly a debate related to absolute predestination, and one that I suppose goes back for Baptists at least to the Second London Baptist Confession.


Right. And I certainly don't expect anyone to subscribe to my clearly non-Baptist views here.

I do find the argument interesting just in trying to sense the value those two denominational groups get from their particular views. I've often felt that a reliance on predestination is a theology that some Christians find comforting, in that it clearly defines God's sovereignty.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Rvaughn » Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:51 am

Tim Bonney wrote:I do find the argument interesting just in trying to sense the value those two denominational groups get from their particular views. I've often felt that a reliance on predestination is a theology that some Christians find comforting, in that it clearly defines God's sovereignty.
I think folks tend to gravitate toward what makes them feel comfortable, whether absolute predestination or absolute free will. Most people end up somewhere in between, whether that is what they are predestinated to, or freely choose -- or were predestinated to freely choose.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Sandy » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:24 am

Timothy Bonney wrote:And I certainly don't expect anyone to subscribe to my clearly non-Baptist views here.


The only views I've seen you express here that I would consider "non-Baptist" are related to church polity and organization. I'm pretty sure most of your theological perspectives could be found among Baptists in one group or another. More Baptists are non-Calvinist than Calvinist and I've been in churches that were pretty Wesleyan in their theology. I went to a Baptist seminary where the prevailing view was that the Canons of Dort and the Institutes were minimal influences among the Baptists who grew their churches and associations out of American frontier revivals. There are several Baptist groups that hold a Wesleyan perspective when it comes to both holiness and eternal security. And while almost all Baptists reject any kind of church polity that isn't congregational, you might even find a few who are secretly envious of the Methodists in that regard, though I'd be afraid of what might result from Baptist pastors being vested with that kind of ecclesiastical authority.

I became interested in the origins and backgrounds of both the Primitive and Old Regular Baptists after encountering them the summer after my sophomore year in college while working a summer job selling Bibles and assorted Christian books door to door in the Tug River Valley along the West Virginia-Kentucky border. I was invited up to the porch of a house by an older gentleman who appreciated seeing a young man with short hair. He belonged to an Old Regular Baptist church which met once a month but on the other Sundays, he went to other churches in the association where there was a service, as did most of the members of his church. He distinguished his church from other Baptists by pronouncing them all hell-bound because they had pianos, organs, "fancy stuff" (backed pews, electricity, indoor plumbing and air conditioning among other things), wasted their money sending missionaries to reprobates, and, horror of horrors, dismissed the congregation at noon. He looked over my inventory and determined that the only thing I had worth selling was the "Holy Bible" (as opposed to just the "Bible") by which he meant the AUTHORIZED King James Version, black leather bound edition that was included in our inventory as something to sell if you couldn't unload any of the other stuff. With all seriousness, no joke, he stated that if the King James Bible was good enough for Jesus to use, and for Paul, it was good enough for him and "them modern versions" were just satanic lies. I didn't really gather much about their doctrine, so I did some research and found out about their Calvinist roots. But even though there are similarities, their relative isolation also produced some differences. I still have difficulty following all of the various nuances of Old Regular Baptists and Primitive Baptists. I went to his church one Sunday and that was, in and of itself, quite an experience.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby KeithE » Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:15 am

Rvaughn wrote:I don't want to go too far down this trail, since I only meant to establish a primary difference between two different kinds of Primitive Baptists. Whether God is the author of sin is certainly a debate related to absolute predestination, and one that I suppose goes back for Baptists at least to the Second London Baptist Confession.
3.1 Of God's Decree {2nd LBC}
God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.


Well I would like to start a substantial trail to this discussion.

It would seem that this paragraph from the Second London Baptist Confession (1689) is based on the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) (as Rvaughn says”goes back for Baptists at least since the Second London Baptist Confession”)

Chapter 3 {WCOF}
God’s Eternal Decrees
1. From all eternity and by the completely wise and holy purpose of his own will, God has freely and unchangeably ordained whatever happens.1 This ordainment does not mean, however, that God is the author of sin (he is not), 2 that he represses the will of his created beings, or that he takes away the freedom or contingency of secondary causes. Rather, the will of created beings and the freedom and contingency of secondary causes are established by him
.

Both claim that these “decrees" do not make God the author of sin. Not so; they merely do not like the logical conclusion of their first sentence. Maybe someone can enlighten me on this “second cause argument”.

Very much agree with what Timothy has said in red below.

Timothy said:
I'm not a Calvinist. But I think it would be pretty hard to argue for a "Predestination in All Things" without making God doer of evil. While I don't believe in predestination for salvation, I think at least a Biblical argument that doesn't make God out to be the bad guy is possible. (But heck, I'm an Arminian, so I know I've got a predetermined prejudice against Calvinism.)


But Arminians also believe the future is fixed and thus any present time evangelism/exhortation is merely allusionary in affecting any salvific or ethical decisions of anyone.

Please consider the approach taken by Thomas Jay Oord’s God Can’t for a rational and biblical basis for rejecting the “author of sin” charge. It starts with the repeated biblical proclamation that God is love and proceeds to what we all know - God is not the author of sin. God granted real free will to mankind and the future is “open” (i.e. not in existence yet). Although we all know that sin (as well as goodness) exist, God calls us through the Spirit to participate in the ongoing improvement of Creation as time unfolds. You may feel that the world is monolithically degrading but you should read Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature which is full of actual data to the contrary (Trump being a small but notable speed bump).

Oord’s book title is more provocative than it needs to be - It would be more accurate to call it "God Can't Singlehandedly” bring about the Kingdom of God that He desires for His Creation - what a genuine call to discipleship! This is an extension on what is called “Open” theology (Baptist Pinnock among many others).

God works through persuasion not coercion wrt salvific and ethical decisions. Our petitionary prayers can be effective (but are not always so - consistent with what Ilve experienced) in this viewpoint - not so in the future-fixed world of Calvinism or Arminianism. Oord says a totally loving God cannot coerce - I’m not sure of that (what about “tough love”). But I whole heartily believe God is about persuasion not coercion and that is a very Baptist conviction.

I’ve had Tom Oord present to a group in Huntsville for a weekend. He stayed at our house and I discussed much with him. He’s a great and humble guy and really grounded in science as well as philosophy and religion (some classes and several speaking engagements at Cal Tech). He distinguishes himself from Process Theology (he did graduate from the pre-immanent “process" seminary - Claremont School of Theology) in that Process theologians (Cobb, Griffin, Clayton) do not believe in any “Supernaturalism” or miracles - Oord does. Interestingly God is continually and actively persuading creation (utilizing quantum tunneling, quantum superposition and entanglement affecting DNA replication)) as well as people; that he calls the "engine of evolution" (he was working a book on that, but I have not seen it yet). I plan to visit him Nov 12 at Pikeville College, Kentucky.

Would love it if some of you dug into these matters (read Oord or Pinnock and think, so I do not expect quick responses).

I’m trying to dig through Process Theology themes at this time. David Ray Griffin has been a favorite of mine on a number of subjects - I’m presently carefully reading The Christian Gospel for Americans and Reason and Reenchantment. Not as data driven as I would like (and I do not agree with the whole “process” program) but still interesting - certainly better than Calvinism.
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Re: The “Unsung Hero” of Old North Baptist Church

Postby Sandy » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:23 am

The Christian Gospel for Americans looks very intriguing. Unfortunately, I have a couple of books on the reading list that are for professional development reasons and want to get to Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia and the Richest most Destructive Industry on Earth
by Rachel Maddow.

Realizing that there are various degrees of thought when it comes to predestination and the direction that it can be carried toward making God the creator or author of sin, there are a lot of places that it can go with regard to personal behavior, attitude and what the church looks like as well. There are groups within the Wesleyan and Arminian branches of the church that major heavily on personal holiness and push hard on spiritual movement both personally and in the gathered body. Pentecostals run along those lines as does the Church of the Nazarene. And if you didn't check the sign on the door before you went in, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart from the Freewill Baptists, some of them. On the Calvinist side, there's nothing more planned in advance and lacking in spontaneity than a Presbyterian church service. I've never been in a Primitive Baptist church, but the Old Regular Baptists that I went to a couple of times in West Virginia were quite Presbyterian, very solemn, even the "upbeat" songs, none of which I was familiar with, were sung without accompaniment and with the avoidance of all physical movement. It was almost as if church were deliberately meant not to be a happy or joyful experience.
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