The Vidalia Resolution
In the Banner Herald, a monthly publication of the Primitive Baptists, published at Jessup, Georgia, in the November, 1975 issue, appeared an article with the above heading. We believe this article to be of interest to our readers. We now quote:
The Voice of Our Past
THE VIDALIA RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, the doctrine of the use of the preached word as a means in the regeneration of sinners is again being agitated among us, causing great unrest among our brethren in Georgia, and among those associated with us in other states, and grave fears are entertained that our fundamental doctrines are being compromised and that doctrines, time and again rejected by Primitive Baptists, are being fastened upon us as a part of our faith, and
WHEREAS, Such teaching among us has always led to strife and ultimate division, be it
RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our belief in and loyalty to the time-honored faith of Primitive Baptists, which faith we understand to include the doctrine of eternal, particular and unconditional election—that a definite number of particular persons were, before time, chosen of God unto salvation or eternal life, that this number can not be increased or diminished; that this definite number of particular persons were embraced in the covenant of Grace and given to Christ to redeem, and that Christ in His death on the cross died for these and none others, and that their eternal salvation was thus made infallibly secure. And be it further
RESOLVED, That as touching the doctrine of regeneration or effectual calling we reaffirm the declaration of our people expressed in 1909, and published in what is known as “The Cordele Statement,” in which it says, “Through the gospel the children of God are instructed and fed, strengthened and rebuked, exhorted and corrected; but nowhere does the Bible teach that God uses the gospel as a means of regenerating sinners.” And be it further
RESOLVED, That we advise, beg and implore our churches to kindly, lovingly and faithfully guard our people against any teaching contrary to this faith, that strife and division may be avoided and the bond of fellowship between our churches may be preserved and strengthened. And be it further
RESOLVED, That we here assembled pledge ourselves to one another and to our brethren everywhere to teach and labor to establish these doctrines most firmly in the minds and hearts of our people.
To read something like this surely warms our hearts. We, as Protestant Reformed Churches, also believe that the divine decree of election is eternal, particular and unconditional. We surely believe that this divine decree is absolutely sovereign. It is for this reason that we reject the general, well meaning of the gospel to all who hear it. And we also believe that regeneration is immediate.
However, we do wish to ask two questions. First, do the Primitive Baptists also believe in double predestination? Double predestination believes in sovereign reprobation as well as in sovereign election. They are inseparable. One cannot believe in the one without also believing in the other. And, secondly, what objection do the Primitive Baptists have, doctrinally, against the baptism of infants? We believe that this doctrine of the baptism of infants very beautifully emphasizes the sovereignty of God’s election, bearing in mind, of course, that the sacrament of baptism does not speak of a universal love of God to all who are baptized.
The Presbyterian Advocate
This is a new magazine. We will let this magazine speak for itself. In its first issue (the only issue we have received as of now), its reason is stated as follows, on page 3 of its October, 1975 issue, underneath the heading, THE REASON FOR THIS MAGAZINE :
The PRESBYTERIAN ADVOCATE is the response of one angry Presbyterian to the arrogant, irresponsible, and vicious actions of much of the “leadership” of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. I am an ordained minister of the denomination and write on behalf of those ministers and ruling elders of our church who remain loyal to the Bible and to the historic confessions of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches. The current ruling faction of the church, the liberal modernists, are now attempting to remove every one of these faithful men from their pulpits and offices in the denomination.
I intend to publish this magazine on a frequent basis and to continue publishing it as long as I have something I want to say and as long as I can finance its publication and delivery. One thing I promise: the content and continued publication of THE PRBSBYTERIAN ADVOCATE will not be influenced in the slightest by hostile ecclesiastical activity against it or against me.
In addition to exposing the follies which presently beset the church I look forward to developing in future issues, material of a more constructive nature, to exploring the true Presbyterian Christian heritage and how it can aid us to live godly creative lives in all the many dimensions of personal and corporate life in the modern world.
Grael Brian Gannon, Editor-Publisher
Park River, North Dakota
October 1, 1975
Then, on page 4 of this magazine appears a STATEMENT OF BELIEF. We also wish to quote this.
The doctrinal position of the PRESBYTERIAN ADVOCATE will take shape in subsequent issues as the various points are discussed. Briefly it may be said to derive from the supreme authority of an infallible Bible given from heaven, interpreted in its own terms, and issuing in subordinate standards whose principal theme is the majesty and absolute sovereignty of God, that man’s chief end is to glorify and enjoy Him, enabled by redemption from sin through the substitutionary satisfaction of the justice of God by the death of Christ and by the Holy Spirit’s applying the merit of Christ’s death to the elect and in regenerating them, also in the Christian life of these redeemed and their eternal life in a new age inaugurated by the final return of Christ in royal power.
The sovereignty of God as manifested in the life of the redeemed elect means that the entire spectrum of life and civilization should be transformed and brought into submission to Him, and that He gives definition to the very processes by which this is accomplished.
The consequence of these principles is a faith Calvinist in doctrine, Reformed in worship, and Presbyterian in government. Its principal historic subordinate standards are:
The Gallic Confession of Faith—1559
The Scats Confession of Faith—1560
The Belgic Confession of Faith—1561
The Heidelberg Catechism—1563
The Second Helvetic Confession of Faith—1566
The Canons of the Synod of Dordrecht—1619
The Westminster Confession of Faith—1647
The Westminster Larger Catechism—1648
The Westminster Shorter Catechism—1648
The Formula Consensus Helvetics—1675
We shall await future issues of this magazine. According to the reason as stated for its appearance and its statement of belief, this magazine intends to be Calvinistic in its doctrine, adhering to the Reformed confessions. However, one thing troubles us: the author of this magazine appears to stand alone. Of course, there is nothing wrong, in itself, in standing alone, if need be. However, does not a congregation in any way support him? Does he stand all alone, all by himself, and why?
Liberal Congregation Leaves Missouri Synod
From the Presbyterian Journal, the October 29, 1975 issue, the following article appears, on page 5, under the above heading:
OKLAHOMA CITY—Grace Lutheran Church, a 250-member congregation here, has become the first congregation to withdraw from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) in the current liberal conservative dispute.
In a congregational meeting, members voted 111 to 56 to sever all ties with the Missouri Synod and to join the Lutheran Church in Mission (LCM) . . . .
The Grace church is the first liberal congregation to withdraw in protest against conservative parties.
According to the Oklahoma City Times, the Rev. Edwin T. Heyne, pastor of the Grace church (and leader of the liberal majority congregation), said he has been unpopular with some members of his church for several years, ever since he openly supported busing for integration in the city schools here. He added that he expects no problems over the question of who owns the church property.
However, according to a certain Wanda Van Gelder, there must have been some irregularities in this action of Grace Church to separate itself from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. This article continues:
However, Wanda Van Gelder, a leader of the conservative group in the church, said the vote could be legally challenged due to improper procedures. She said 71 new voters were added and 10 inactive members were reinstated to voter status before the meeting began.
Miss Van Gelder also asserted that one person who voted for withdrawal had been confirmed as a member at a service only four hours before the meeting.
(Editor’s note: Just before press time we received word that representatives of the minority congregation, including Miss Van Gelder, have ,obtained a court order barring the disposition of the church’s assets.)