Tuesday, 28 May 2013


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It recently came to my attention through my activities on Twitter how one who is very vocal in his anti Calvinism (branding it as Satanic etc.,) regarded the Texan preacher, Benjamin H. Carroll as a "Baptist giant" and but only recently enthused to a fellow pastor that Carroll was also "a genius" and that his commentary is "a gold mine." High praise indeed!  As far as Carroll's Baptist polity is concerned, I do not doubt it in the least, but as shown below, that this man's "Baptist giant" was also (by his own allegation) a "Calvinist heretic" and (forgive the slight diversion here) also rejected the KJVO position (1) and regarded Premillenialism as nullifying the Cross of Christ (2). As much as it is tempting to follow through these later thoughts of Carroll (not that I necessarily agree with him) the main thrust of this article, as suggested by the title is Carroll's Calvinism. It needs to be said that Carroll does not appear to be a 5 point Calvinist. Unfortunately, he succummbed to the teaching that Christ atoned for (i.e. covered) for the sins of those who would later be in Hell. This opens up all sorts of theological problems.  But, apart from this, no one can doubt that  basically held to the broad Calvinist faith. Consider the quotes below, all  from the original sources, that are available on the internet.

1) BH Carroll wisely and correctly distinguished between Calvinists and Hyper Calvinists:

"Some hyper-Calvinists hold that all subjects of influence from the Holy Spirit are necessarily saved, basing their arguments on such scriptures as, "Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). From which they argue that the Holy Spirit never really touches any man except those pre-ordained to salvation. I hold unswervingly to the doctrine that in every case of genuine conversion the good work thus commenced will be graciously completed. But, in my judgment, the Bible is very far from teaching that the lost never had any spiritual light – never were subject to any impressions made by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it would seem impossible otherwise to commit the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit." (Comments on the Unpardonable Sin)

(Note: Carroll invoked the names of many Calvinists  to support view of the unpardonable sin: "I know of no great theologian in the Baptist ranks who denies it. I refer to such acknowledged teachers of systematic theology as Gill, Boyce, Strong, Dagg, Hovey, Pendleton, and Robinson, and among the Presbyterians such authors as Calvin, Hodge, and Shedd – all of whose books I have studied on this specific point.")

"He prayed for them, but not for the world. I stop to ask a question: Did not Christ pray for sinners? He is not talking to them here; he is talking to Christians. "I pray for them, my disciples, whom God gave to me." My question is, Does it mean that Christ never did pray for sinners? Did Christ ever pray for sinners? On the cross Christ said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And in Isaiah 53 it is said, "He made intercession for the transgressors." Some hyper-Calvinists claim that praying for sinners is foolish. It once went sweeping over Texas and came nigh capturing it. In sweeping away the mourners' bench and some of the hurtful methods used in carrying on protracted meetings, it swept away the mourner himself. These heretics taught that the sinner had no right to pray for himself, and that Christians had no right to pray for him, and that Christ did not pray for them. Praying for sinners is not in print here, because this is an intercessory prayer for his people. But it does not contradict other passages, which show that he prayed for his persecutors, and all transgressors." (John 14-17)"Once when a party of preachers were discussing election and predestination I asked the question, "Do you believe in election and predestination?" The answer was, "Yes." "Are you ever hindered by what you believe about election in preaching a universal gospel? If you have any embarrassment there it shows that you have in some way a wrong view of the doctrine of election and predestination." A young preacher of my county went to the wall on that thing. It made him practically quit preaching, because he said that he had no gospel except for the sheep."

Note: Although Carroll does not  mention Hyper Calvinists by name here, yet this is what he is get at.  True Calvinists, after  (to quote Spurgeon) "Calvin's own stamp" readily affirm the free offer of the gospel.

2) BH Carroll affirmed his strong unbelief in the sovereignty of God in salvation before (rightly) affirming his belief in the responsibility of the sinner:  

"In the matter of personal salvation, whatever many scriptures seem to teach, there must be earnest exertion upon our part. No man believes more than I do the doctrine of predestination, the doctrine of the elect, the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation, the doctrine that salvation from its inception to its consummation is of God, the doctrine of the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit at the very beginning and throughout the entire course of the Christian life. All of these I believe, without a shadow of reservation. And yet the Bible teaches that man must not sit still; that he occupies no waiting attitude; that he is not to remain in a morally passive state, and if I knew that I had to stand before the judgment bar tomorrow and answer for the orthodoxy, the soundness of the statement 'I now make, I would lift up my voice confidently and say that this lesson shows that in the matter of salvation there must be the most attentive, the most earnest, the most vigorous and the most persistent exertion upon our part. On what word do I found this? I found it on this word "strive." It is our Lord, not I, who turns the questioner from a question of curiosity first to his own case and then to the responsibility of exertion." (Repent or perish)

3) BH Carroll affirmed his strong unbelief in the sovereignty of God in all affairs, invoking Calvinist examples and especially the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints: 

3. "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" – How clearly this passage teaches that a man cannot die until his work is done, nor malice strike the beloved of God until he permits! It is a statement of the doctrine of predestination, and surely the men of this spirit have been the world conquerors. The Huguenots, the Dutch Calvinists, Cromwell's Ironsides, the Scotch-Irish of Londonderry, swarming into Pennsylvania, down the Shenandoah into Virginia and on into the mountains of the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, sending out great spirits here and there like Andrew Jackson and Stonewall Jackson, together with the Baptist hosts of Texas, who have helped much to make this Texas a commonwealth of perfect portrait of a life, the writers supporting and supplementing each other to a degree inexplicable in any natural way and demonstrating that each of the four was led by super God – these all illustrate the meaning of the passage. I deny not that the Arminians, particularly the Methodists, have achieved great things in evangelism, but this they did not by "falling from grace," but by "the perseverance of the saints" and their doctrine of the power of the Holy Spirit. (The raising of Lazarus and its results)

4) BH Carroll viewed the mourner's bench, at least, with suspicion and referred to some hurtful methods in evangelism: 

"In sweeping away the mourners' bench and some of the hurtful methods used in carrying on protracted meetings, it swept away the mourner himself." (John 14-17)

 5) BH Carroll repudiates the faith before election view as man glorifying and as teaching that salvation is by works and not grace:

"The last clause of verse 48, which reads thus: "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed," needs some explanation. When I was a young fellow and had not imbibed the doctrine of predestination I wanted that to read, "And as many as believed were ordained to eternal life." Perhaps that is the way you want to interpret it. Dr. Broadus said, "Let the scripture mean what it wants to mean," and you let that passage stand – ordination to precede eternal life. Ordination to eternal life takes place in eternity. Paul, in Romans 8, gives us the order. Many modern people do not believe it. We seldom ever hear anybody preach a sermon on it. I heard a strong preacher once say, "I just can't believe it." Romans 8:29 reads, "For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son . . . and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified." Justification comes at believing. So unless that passage reads, "As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed," it would break Paul's chain all to pieces. Settle it in your mind that salvation commences with God, and not with man. If you put it the other way, "As many as believed were ordained to eternal life," then you put the man ahead. It is the question after all, Is salvation of grace or of works?" (Commentary on Acts 13:48)

6)  BH Carroll affirming his belief in the doctrine of Total Depravity: 

"And then again they were liable to misunderstand. He says, "I don't mean that the murderer never gets to heaven; I don't mean that men who were fornicators never get to heaven, for such were some of you. You belonged to that very crowd, but ye were washed; the Holy Spirit took you in charge; you desired to obey God, not to disobey him." In other words, the Holy Spirit is greater than total depravity. It can overcome total depravity, because total depravity is of the first birth; but this being born again by the power of the Holy Spirit makes one of another seed, of the word of God, that liveth and abideth forever."  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11

7) BH Carroll catalogues Augustine's greatness, identifying it with Calvinism: 

"This is a case worthy of consideration. Everyone ought to read Augustine's confessions. He did not keep on living that life after he was converted; he was one of the greatest preachers that ever lived. What we call Calvinism is the doctrine of Augustine. He saved the church for 300 years from going astray." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11

And just in case, you miss the application, BH Carroll takes it up again in the review questions, identifying Calvinism with the gospel that Paul preached in Corinth: 

"21. What the character of the Corinthians before hearing the gospel, and what their character afterwards?"

"22. What remarkable case of this transformation cited, and what is Calvinism?"
8) BH Carroll on election, asking the question: "Was this election based on foreseen repentance and faith, or did repentance and faith result from the election?" Whole section shows that faith and repentance are the signs (not the cause) of our election i.e. we repent and believe because we are elect: 
"Let us consider somewhat the matter of election. It is something that may be known. He says he knew it. Once I helped to ordain a man for whom I conducted the examination. I asked the questions just as fast as I could fire the shots at him: "What does election mean?" "To choose." "Who chooses?" "God." "When?" "Before the foundation of the world." "Unto what?" "Salvation." "In whom?" "In Christ." "Was this election based on foreseen repentance and faith, or did repentance and faith result from the election?" This was the thing that Paul was discussing: "I am thankful, brethren, because I know you are elected. You are chosen of God unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth in Jesus Christ." That being the doctrine of election, -that God chose those people in eternity, yet Paul here in time could find out. So what are the tokens or signs that one is elected? These tokens are of two kinds: signs to Paul, the preacher, and signs in them, or the evidence that they are the elect. When he saw these signs he knew they were elect. How important that thing is for us. Our articles of faith say it is our privilege and duty to ascertain whether we are elected. We ought to find out whether we have been chosen of God. There is a way to find out: "How that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance." (1 Thessalonians)

 Note again the follow up review questions: 

9. What is election, who elects, when, unto what, in whom, and what the relation of election to repentance and faith? 
10. Show how Paul knew of their election of God, (1) from signs in him, and (2) from signs in them.

9) BH Carroll reminding Calvinists of our contention that God is not the author of sin:

"If God were the author of sin and constrained men by an extraneous power to sin, he could not be a judge. All who hold the Calvinistic interpretation of grace must give fair weight to that statement. Whenever God does judge a man, his judgment will be absolutely fair." (Romans 2:17-4:25

10) BH Carroll expounded the doctrine on Unconditional Election in 1 Peter 1:2:

"Peter's doctrine of election illustrating the work of the Trinity in the salvation of men. 1 Peter 1:1-2 represents the Trinityin the work of salvation: "The elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." There we see he presents the whole Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That statement of the doctrine of election in a few words, when coupled with a part of 2 Peter I, gives Peter's whole idea of the doctrine of election. As Peter states election, what is it? It means chosen to salvation. Who elects? God the Father. According to what does he elect? According to his foreknowledge. What does he mean by foreknowledge? The Greek word is "prognosis": "nosis" means knowledge, and "pro" (the "g" being for euphony) means before, or foreknowledge, and that word is a noun is used only by Peter in the New Testament. He uses it three times, as follows: Acts 2:23; the passage here, 1 Peter 1:1, and in 1 Peter 1:20. These are the only places in the New Testament where we have the word "prognosis," foreknowledge, which means to know beforehand. But both Peter and Paul use the verb "prognosco," which means to know beforehand. Peter uses that verb in 1 Peter 3:17, and Paul uses it in Acts 26:5; Romans 8:29; 11:2. Both Peter and Paul use the verb once to talk about a previous happening, i.e., a happening before the time of which he is speaking. Paul says that the Jew had known him beforehand, and Peter uses it in a similar way where it refers to men knowing one thing before they know another thing. We have nothing to do with that foreknowledge. Paul uses that word with reference to God foreknowing his people, and all the other times Peter speaks of God's foreknowledge. Now, then, the question is: What does foreknowledge mean? Foreknowledge is used by Peter, and "to foreknow" is used by Paul, referring to God. My reason for putting that question is, that when I was a young preacher, a Baptist preacher who was a good man, but Arminian in his theory, preached a sermon on election; and he said, "election is according to foreknowledge; God foreknew that certain men would repent and believe, and having before seen they would repent and believe, he elected them." When he got through I told him that the New Testament use of foreknowledge was just about equivalent to predestination, and that any Greek scholar would tell him so, and that election was not based upon any foreseen goodness in man or any foreseen repentance or faith in man, but that repentance and faith proceed from election, and not election from them. So that what Paul means by foreknowledge is just about the same as predestination; that in eternity God determined and elected according to that predestination." (Comments on 1 Peter 1:2)

11) BH Carroll lauded the various Calvinistic Confessions of Faith prevelant among the Baptist Churches in texas at that time:
"I now introduce the "New Hampshire Confession of Faith," written by John Newton Brown, and which is the Confession of most Texas Baptist churches."  (Sermon on Assurance)

"First in order, as most official and authoritative, are Confessions or Declarations of Faith. These symbols embody in a terse form and show forth to the world the substance of our belief on the main points of Bible teachings. They are very important historical witnesses of doctrine. The most venerable symbol of American Baptist doctrine is the Philadelphia Confession, "adopted by the Baptist Association met at Philadelphia September 25, 1742," and "printed by Benjamin Franklin, 1743." The historical basis of this Confession, in the main, was the London Confession of 1689. On the Philadelphia Confession nearly all the early Baptist Associations of America were founded. I now introduce this venerable witness of Baptist doctrine..."  (Sermon on Assurance)

"I have quoted these creeds as the historical witnesses of doctrine, because our first proposition re-dates to history. There are some nowadays who decry all use of creeds. These always have a creed of their own which they wish to impose in the place of the one they decry. Spurgeon well says on this point: "The arch-enemy of truth has invited us to level our walls  and take away our fenced cities. He has cajoled some truehearted but weak-headed believers to advocate this crafty policy 'Away with creeds and bodies of divinity!' This is the cry of the day. Ostensibly, it is reverence for the Bible, and attachment to charity which dictates the clamorous denunciation; but at the bottom it is hatred of definitive truth. As Philip of Macedon hated the Grecian orators because they were watchdogs of the flock, so there are wolves who desire the destruction of our doctrinal formularies, that they may make havoc of the souls of men by their pestilent heresies." (Sermon on Assurance)
12) BH Carroll considered the Calvinist James P. Boyce as unsurpassed as a theologian:

"Now here is the text-book on systematic theology, which every student of that seminary [ Southern Baptist Theological Seminary]  is required to almost memorize. It was prepared by our lamented brother, Dr. James P. Boyce, to whom a superior was not left on earth when he was called up higher." (Sermon on Assurance)


(1) “No man with a Bible before him can seriously question a personal, real, visible, audible, palpable, tangible coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don't preach on it enough. While the premillennialist preaches too much on the time feature of it, the postmillennialist preaches too little on the reality and certainty of it. Whoever puts the time too soon, or makes it always imminent prepares for infidelity in the reaction of disappointment. Whoever leaves it out of his preaching altogether, leaves out the great hope of the gospel.” From: Our Lord's great prophecy - His Second Coming (Concluded)

(2) "The only textbook absolutely requisite is the English Bible. The Common, or King James Version, can be made to serve, but the Canterbury Revision, or the American Standard Version, is much preferred." (From Introduction to Commentary on the English Bible)

(2) "Bearing these reflections in mind, I submit for consideration four analyses of the letter to the Romans, three of them here, and my own later. The first is by Albert Arnold Bennet, of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Japan, and is by all odds the best in many respects. In his book we have three parallel columns, the right hand column containing the Greek text according to Westcott and Hort, the middle column the revised translation verse by verse, and the first column the analysis itself in detail, carried entirely through the book. It is the most remarkable specimen of analysis I have ever known. I am very proud that a Baptist is the author of it. Who would expect such a thing from a Baptist Theological Seminary in Japan?" (Commentary on Romans)

"The King James translators had not before them any one of the three oldest manuscripts of the New Testament: the Alexandrian manuscript, now in the British Museum, was presented to Charles I, son of James. The Sinaitic manuscript was discovered long after that translation by Tischendorf, and it is now in the museum at St. Petersburg. The Vatican manuscript is in the Vatican Library at Rome. All these oldest and best manuscripts read: "Blessed are they that have washed their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life." I have facsimiles of all these oldest manuscripts in my library. You may accept it without question that in the best texts the reading is "Blessed are they who have washed their robes." (Commentary on Revelation)

.FTR: I reject the notion that the W&H texts are superior texts. I have recorded these quotes from Carroll to show that he was far from the KJVO position. In describing this "heretical Calvinist" Carroll as a "Baptist giant" and his PostMill, Calvinistic commentary as "a gold mine," you can how confused some of the anti Calvinism crowd can be. Once again, I make the same point (seeing they make the same moves over and over again) - if these pastors can read and benefit so much from Calvinist commentaries, then so can those who sit in their pews. For all their severe denunciations of Calvinism etc., they know where to run when they want meat to feed the flock. Read Spurgeon! Read Gill! Read BH Carroll! Read Matthew Henry! Read the commentaries of Hodge! Your anti Calvinist pastors read and study them!  The "Calvinism-is-heresy" outbursts are little more than mere theatre and that in the most sacred of places, the gospel pulpit. 



  1. It is interesting to note that BH Carroll is claimed by the independent Baptists as well as by the Southern Baptists (of which I am one!). See here: http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/heritage/carroll.asp

    Also, I've been studying Baptist history recently and found that JM Carroll's "Trail of Blood" is a tome of the Landmark Movement pushing the idea of Baptist succession. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/itl01
    I now look at that booklet with a different view.

  2. Thanks for your comments. If BH carroll was alive today, he would be denounced by the IFB as a Neo-Evangelical and a compromiser. Very few, if any, of those whom the IFB gush about would get within 10 miles of their pulpits being usually Calvinist, Non Dispensational (BHC hammered it) non KJVO and who happily worked with non Baptists. The same for Spurgeon. For all their apeing of Billy Sunday; again, they wouldn't have him near the place.

    I cover some of JM Carroll's Trail/Blood contents here: http://weecalvin1509.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bloodtrail.html

    Thnaks for your comments,


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