Predestinarian and Old School Baptists

We are as a group of Baptists: “Old School”, “Predestinarian”, “Primitive” Baptists. Since there are large and different groups by these appellations in America which differ doctrinally and practically, the terms are often misleading.

The term “Old School” has reference to the CHURCH FORM. In FORM, a church is either “Old School” or “New School”. Most (but not all) Primitive Baptists and Old Regular Baptists are “Old School”, while most (but not all) Missionary Baptists are “New School”.

A church which did not modify, or change their practices from the New Testament pattern is “Old School”. That is, it has no auxiliaries such as Sabbath or Sunday Schools, theological seminaries, Mite Societies, Brother-hoods, Women’s Petticoat Societies, Instrumental Music, Mission Societies, etc. . . .

These are not found in the Scriptures and the church of Christ has no authority for them. Hence, it is “Old School”. Those having such things developed during the late 1780’s to 1840’s and were withdrawn from by the Church. These were “a new school of Baptists”. . . Hence the term “New School Baptists” Our churches are Old School or New Testament in form.

The term “Predestinarian” has reference to the church’s DOCTRINE. In theological terms, it is often called “Calvinistic” after the Protestant Re-former John Calvin. However, we are opposed to calling the DOCTRINES OF CHRIST after a man’s name.

In addition, a Calvinist may be such historically and yet know nothing of the internal works of the Spirit within a believer. Hence, we reject the term “Calvinism” in favor of what we consider a better name.

The interpretation of the term “Predestinarian” which we favor is: we hold strictly to the absolute sovereignty of God over all things, events, and individuals so that nothing occurs in nature or grace except what God Himself either works or decrees by permission; and that which is permitted is under His absolute control whereby He keeps it within the bounds of His secret will and purpose.

It embraces salvation by free and sovereign grace, election, predestination, reprobation, justification, sanctification, perseverance and preservation, judgment, etc., as well as the control of nature, nations, and natural events from the smallest atoms to the largest cosmos; both natural and spiritual.

In brief, God’s sovereignty embraces all things both small and great. That is the basic doctrinal distinction of our churches.

In opposition to this doctrinal distinction, there stands Arminianism. In short, Arminianism is FREEWILLISM pure and simple. It is the natural will deified by man which (to those who subscribe to it) is sovereign over all things. . . so sovereign, that according to them, God Himself either cannot or will not defy it. They call it “freedom of choice”.

We call it Mystery Babylon.

Thus, a church can be either “Old School” or “New School” in form.

It can be “Predestinarian” or “Arminian freewill” in doctrine.

The combinations appear almost limitless. Some Baptist churches are New School and Arminian as in the case of most modern Baptists. Such are Southern Baptists, American Baptist Association, Baptist Missionary Association, Fundamentalist Baptists, …in general (there are exceptions) almost all Missionary Baptist groups.

On the other hand, churches can be Old School and Predestinarian. Such as many Independent Primitives, Old School Baptists, and the various corresponding orders of these, as well as our own.

Some Primitives, as the Progressives are New School moderate Calvinists. Others, as the Eastern District Primitives and Beulah Association in north Florida are Old School and Freewill …their doctrines are the same as the Southern Baptists.

There is a growing number of New School Baptists who are returning to the free grace or predestinarian doctrines. Among these are those calling themselves “Sovereign Grace Baptists”, “New Testament Baptists”, “Reform Baptists”, and “Independent Landmark Baptists”.

Among these groups, the basic doctrines are very near to our own; but their practices are decidedly “New School” …even those calling themselves “New Testament Baptists” in general are New School in practice rather than New Testament.

Needless to say, among all these we have listed, whether New School or Old School, many shades and hues of differences exist.

The old question: “What is in a name?” is a good one here. Our own measurement of fellowship is based upon Predestinarian doctrine, New Testament or Old School faithfulness, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

By Stanley C. Phillips

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