Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Why the name Primitive Baptist?
A: Primitive Baptist ancestors have been called by various names over the ages. The name Primitive Baptist became popular in the early 1800s when the term “primitive” conveyed the idea of originality rather than backwardness. Accordingly, Primitive Baptists claim to maintain the doctrines and practices of the original Baptists, who are claimed to be the New Testament church. “Primitive” also conveys the idea of simplicity. This well describes the Primitive Baptists, whose church services consist of nothing more than preaching, praying, and singing. Even though the name “primitive” can convey a negative impression, it also has some benefits; one being that it provokes interest and questions.
Q2: What is the basic difference between Primitive Baptists and other religious orders?
A: This is likely the one question which is asked most frequently of Primitive Baptists.Primitive Baptists believe that eternal salvation is by the Grace of God ALONE (Isaiah 53, Acts 4:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 6:37-39, John 17:2-9, Romans 8:28-39, II Corinthians 5:21, Luke 1:9-15, Galatians 2:16, Hebrews 9:12-15)The reader should examine the remainder of this document to become acquainted with Primitive Baptist practices. The Abstract to the Doctrine of Salvation will introduce the reader to Primitive Baptist views on doctrine. The Black Rock Address of 1832 will acquaint the reader with the circumstances which lead to the division between Primitive and other Baptists.
Q3: What do Primitive Baptists believe is the role of God the Father in salvation?
A: In making a covenant with God the Son and God the Spirit, God the Father foreknew, elected, and predestinated an innumerable host out of all mankind before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:3-6, Ephesians 1:11, I Peter 1:2, John 6:37-40, John 17:2).
Q4: What is the role of God the Son in salvation?
A: God the Son came to earth to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), to suffer the wrath of God for their sins in their place (I Peter 3:18), and to redeem (buy back) those whom God the Father had previously chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:7, John 6:37-40, Matthew 1:21, John 10:27-30, John 17:2-3, Titus 3:6, Hebrews 9:12-14, I Peter 1:1).
Q5: What is the role of God the Spirit in salvation?
A: God the Spirit promised to enter the heart of every person whom God the Father foreknew and whom God the Son redeemed, giving the “new birth” (Titus 3:5, John 1:13, John 3:1-8, John 6:63, I Peter 1:1), and also to guide those children in their understanding of the word of God (John 16:13). According to the scripture, this “new birth” is not given because of any action of our own, but by His mercy and grace.
Q6: What is my role in salvation?
A: If you have been born again by His Spirit, it means you are included in God’s purpose and your role is to give God glory in your life because of the life He has given you (Ephesians 2:1). This involves repenting of sin, embracing His truths, confessing Him, following His instruction, and joining His church (Acts 2:38, Psalms 119:105, Romans 10:9, Revelation 4:11, I Peter 3:21).
Q7: Must I “accept Christ” in order to be saved?
A: No. The words “accept/accepted/accepting” occur 12 times in the New Testament in reference to salvation. Not ONCE does it mention that you are to “accept Christ”, which is a phrase that was coined around 100 years ago. However, as one already born again, the Bible declares that “in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, IS ACCEPTED with him” (Acts 10:35). Like the “sinner’s prayer”, and other terms not found in the Bible, the idea of “accepting Christ” arose through years of distortions and mis-teaching of the fact that God’s children “receive” the Spirit into their hearts by volition of the Holy Ghost (John 1:12, John 3:27, Romans 8:15, I Corinthians 2:12, II Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 3:2, Colossians 2:6). But you can accept the gospel (II Corinthians 11:4), the good news of your salvation, which declares the truth that CHRIST has MADE US ACCEPTED (Ephesians 1:6), which involved no work of our own! If you have received the Lord’s gift, then you are required to repent and be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
Q8: If Primitive Baptists believe in election, then why did Jesus have to die?
A: Election and predestination are merely the terms used by God to describe what He did in appointing the innumerable host of His children to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). In order for this to be accomplished, someone had to suffer the penalty for the sins of His people. God’s wrath must be satisfied on all mankind, including those He chose (the elect). Only one Man could do that - Jesus Christ. He suffered the penalty of sin in our place (Acts 17:3, II Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:6, Hebrews 9:12-28), which had to occur in order for the innumerable host of His children to be housed in heaven.
Q9: Are Primitive Baptists Calvinists?
A: No. In the minds of most people, Christianity is divided into two major groups, those who believe eternal salvation depends upon your choice (i.e., “accepting” Christ) and Calvinists (those who advocate the theology of John Calvin). Clearly, there is a plain distinction between Primitive Baptists and those who believe you can “accept” Christ. However, when people hear Primitive Baptists proclaim the doctrines of grace (election, predestination, etc.), they assume that Primitive Baptists are some branch of the Calvinist family. The fact is, Primitive Baptists have never been a part of either group since they and their ancestors have maintained their identity since the days of Christ and the Apostles. John Calvin was a Protestant Reformer who seceded from the Catholic Church and started Presbyterianism. Baptists derive their existence from Christ and the Apostles and, as such, predate Catholics and have maintained separate existence even through the Dark Ages, hence the name “Primitive” (Matthew 16:16-18, Ephesians 2:20).
Q10: Is election/predestination something to be afraid of?
A: No. It is essential to understand that no one would be saved it if were not for God electing a people, Christ dying for their sins and the Spirit making them a new creation (Romans 3:10, Psalms 14, Psalms 53). Interestingly, ALL of the first churches embraced election as part of the good news that was preached to them (I Thessalonians 1:4, Ephesians 1). The conversion and baptism of ALL the early church members involved an integral, working knowledge of this fundamental teaching. The Apostle Paul taught this in his FIRST messages to the Thessalonians (Acts 17, I Thessalonians 1:4), the Ephesians (Acts 19, Acts 20, Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2), the Philippians, the Corinthians, etc. The Apostle Peter taught this truth (Acts 2:38-41, I Peter 1:2, II Peter 1:10). Furthermore, Jesus Christ taught it (Matthew 24:12, Matthew 24:31, Luke 4:25-27, Luke 18:7, John 5:40, John 10:27-29, John 15:16, John 17:2-3).
Q11: Do Primitive Baptists think they are an exclusive group?
A: It is a common misconception that because Primitive Baptists embrace salvation by grace as plainly taught in the scriptures they therefore believe God’s chosen people are an exclusive group. On the contrary, Primitive Baptists are the only known group in existence who believe that God has an all-inclusive group of chosen, sanctified, and redeemed people in every kindred, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9). When a believer understands that were it not for God’s choice of a people then there would be no one in Heaven because of man’s sin (Romans 5:12), it is clear that God did not exclude anyone from heaven. The Lord Himself looked down upon the children of men to see if there were any that would seek Him and He found none (Romans 3:12, Psalms 14:2, Psalms 53:2). It was Adam’s choice to sin, not God’s choice, that excluded ALL mankind from heaven and were it not for the inclusive grace of Jesus Christ, none would be saved. Jesus declared, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden ...” (Matthew 11:28). The cry of Primitive Baptists is inclusive for all born-again sinners, no matter their age, race, color, creed, or background, to take up the cross and follow Jesus as an evidence of Jesus’ saving grace in their heart (Luke 9:23). However, a person who believes that a sinner must invite Jesus into his heart, accept Christ, say a particular prayer, or meet any man-made condition to enter Heaven, embraces a false salvation that is exclusive and not contained in the scripture. Accordingly, any person who does not meet that group’s particular condition IS excluded.
Q12: Will all of God’s elect children be saved?
A: Yes, because Jesus said all that the Father gave Him would come to Him (John 6:37). This is the only plan of salvation that, in addition to saving competent people, would also include the salvation of those incapable of receiving the gospel, such as infants (Luke 1:41, Psalms 22:9, Jeremiah 1:5, II Samuel 12:23, I Kings 14:13) or mentally challenged persons!
Q13: What about the person who wants to be saved but is “left out” by God’s plan of election?
A: If you believe the promise of Jesus (John 10:27-29), then you understand that this is not possible. A person who “wants” to be saved is saved already! (John 1:13).
Q14: What is the purpose of preaching?
A: To instruct, comfort (Isaiah 40:1-9, Ephesians 4:11-16), reprove, rebuke, exhort (II Timothy 4:2), warn, teach (Colossians 1:28), and spread the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone among all nations (Luke 24:47).
Q15: What is the purpose of the gospel?
A: To bring life and immortality to LIGHT but NOT to LIFE (II Timothy 1:10). The gospel is the information/education/understanding of how you are saved. It illuminates (brightens) what God has already placed in your heart. There is no life to illuminate in a spiritually dead being (Ephesians 2:1).
Q16: What is the Primitive Baptist understanding of the Bible’s teaching concerning missionaries?
A: The term missionary is found nowhere in the Bible. The gifts of the church are found in Ephesians 4:11. The purpose of these gifts is for the benefit of the saints, or those who are already born again. Primitive Baptists wholeheartedly believe that gospel ministers must go where directed by the Spirit and not by a mission board (Acts 20:22-23). The call to “save lost sinners”, or the cry of mission work as is common today, whether intentional or not, works to de-emphasize the importance of the local ministry and place the importance of the Christian walk somewhere far away. It causes individuals to lose sight of their true “mission”, that of being content with where God has placed them and striving to spread the gospel to those in the area where they have the most influence - their home and their communities. It is noteworthy that Primitive Baptists have established churches in foreign lands, such as the Philippines, Africa and India, to which no organization or board has directed men to go, other than the Lord.
Q17: What is the Primitive Baptist position on Sunday schools?
A: Like missionary societies, there is no biblical precedent for Sunday schools and the church was never instructed to have them. Bible study is expected out of church members and is not limited to a formal church setting. Scriptural example dictates that such activities are conducted in contexts other than formal church worship (Acts 2:46, Acts 17:17, Acts 20:20). There is nothing in scriptures to indicate that worshippers, either in the New Testament or the Old, were ever segregated by knowledge, age, sex, marital status, or any other criterion. Instead, all worshipped in a common assembly. Jesus Himself charged the first preachers to feed the lambs (little ones), as well as the sheep, (John 21:15) in the context of the general assembly. We are told that childrens’ understanding can exceed that of the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25, Matthew 21:15) and that God has ordained praise in the utterances of babes (Matthew 21:16). Accordingly, Jesus rebuked His disciples for denying admittance of children to His presence (Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 9:36-37, Mark 10:13-15). Hence, it should not be assumed that children are incapable of receiving proper instruction from the general assembly. The modern practice of denying children entrance to church sanctuaries is very much against the spirit of the scriptures. However, Primitive Baptists advocate a better position than Sunday schools - that of parents, whether single-parent homes or otherwise, instructing their children in their homes on a daily basis, which provides much more instruction than one hour per week. The church cannot take the place of the parental responsibility of teaching in the home (Ephesians 6:4).
Q18: What is the Primitive Baptist view of the scriptures?
A: Primitive Baptists view scriptures as the divinely inspired word of God and as the sole rule of faith and practice for the church. It is also believed that the scriptures have been divinely preserved through the ages and that the 1611 King James version is the proper English translation of the scriptures. Paul claimed that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16). Accordingly, Jesus said that scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). Such infallibility could only occur in writings under the power of plenary (full) inspiration. The apostle Peter said “... no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:20-21). Hence, scriptural prophecy is void of any private opinions of the writers. They were actually moved by the Spirit of God when writing. Furthermore, the psalmist David declares “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times ... Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation forever.” (Psalms 12:6-7).All books of the King James Bible are regarded as scripture. No books apart from these are so considered. The books of the Old Testament are known to be scripture because Jesus and the apostles quoted them as such. The books of the New Testament are known to be scripture because of Jesus' promise that special inspirational guidance would be upon the apostles (John 14:26, John 16:13). This pertains to Paul also, as is implied by Peter in II Peter 3:15-16. The inspiration of the Bible is further evidenced by its internal consistency and its historical, scientific, and prophetic accuracy. Primitive Baptists strongly prefer the 1611 King James version based upon evidence indicating the superiority of its base manuscripts and upon evidence indicating the superior scholarship of its translators.
Q19: How do Primitive Baptists use scriptural precedent to resolve questions of church practice?
A: Primitive Baptists believe that issues of practice which are not explicitly addressed by scriptural commandment should be resolved, where possible, by scriptural precedent. Primitive Baptists are very disinclined to treat scriptural practices as mere cultural fashions of biblical times and will do so only where this is obviously the case (I Corinthians 9:19-23). Scriptures themselves teach that adherence to scriptural example is not a matter of indifference. Paul told the Corinthians “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am a follower of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances (traditions), as I delivered them to you.” (I Corinthians 11:1-2) Accordingly, he told the Thessalonians “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (II Thessalonians 2:15) One chapter later he wrote “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (II Thessalonians 3:6) Traditions which have no biblical authority are not obligatory and to make them otherwise can reduce worship to vanity (Mark 7:5-13). On the other hand, traditions which have biblical authority are clearly expected of us and are sufficiently important to be criteria of fellowship. Since the New Testament church was a highly multicultural institution, being found in many nations of the world, practices uniformly observed in them cannot be dismissed as cultural peculiarities. They clearly expected these practices of themselves as churches of Jesus Christ and we should view these practices the same way.
Q20: How does the typical Primitive Baptist view his or her role in society?
A: Primitive Baptists cannot consent with those who compromise scriptural commandments in order to gain social acceptance. We deny the claim that terms of truth and morality are to be guided by the ever changing winds of social values (Ephesians 4:14). Instead, these are defined by our ever constant Lord and are revealed in His inspired word (Malachi 3:6, Luke 21:33, Hebrews 13:8, I Peter 1:24-25). Since it is our duty, both to God and man, to teach God's revealed truth and since we represent ourselves as doing such, any compromise of this truth would deceive and betray our fellow man, even when such compromise would serve to appease him. However, it is not our purpose to incite hatred or persecution against any man or sector of society. Since our Baptist ancestry was greatly persecuted and since we are also falsely accused and ridiculed unto this day, conscience forbids that we should bring the same upon others. Instead, the scriptures command us that the servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (II Timothy 2:24-25). Accordingly, we recognize that love and charity are the first test of all that claim to be Christian (Matthew 22:36-40, John 13:35, I John 2:9-11) and that though we have all truth we are but nothing without it (I Corinthians 13:2).
Special thanks to Elders Tim McCool, David Pyles, Lonnie Mozingo, Jr., Michael Gowens, and Louis Culver for permission to use this list of frequently-asked questions about the Primitive Baptists.