Definitions

two peas in pod

Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists

Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists are part of a larger sub-group of Baptists that is commonly referred to as "anti-mission" Baptists. This sub-group includes the Duck River and Kindred Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Old Regular Baptists, some Regular Baptists and some United Baptists.

Baptists seem to have first appeared in North America in the early 17th century. Through the influence of the Philadelphia Baptist Association (org. 1707), the influx of members to the churches from the Great Awakenings, and the union of the disparate Regular and Separate Baptists, by the early 19th century Baptists would become an important American denomination. This growth was not without its pangs, and by 1820 these Baptists were embroiled in an intense and sometimes bitter "missions" controversy. Much of the controversy centered around the newly formed Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.

Elder Daniel Parker (1781-1844) was one of the earlier ministers to speak out against the "missions" movement. In 1820 (Vincennes, Indiana), he released a booklet entitled "A Public Address to the Baptist Society, and Friends of Religion in General, on the Principle and Practice of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions for the United States of America." The Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, organized at Philadelphia in 1814, is best known as the Triennial Convention, but its official name was the "General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States." Objections by Baptists to the Convention were based on both soteriology and ecclesiology. Parker was a strict Predestinarian, but his chief objections in the booklet are based on ecclesiology - for example, "They have violated the right or government of the Church of Christ in forming themselves into a body and acting without of the union." Several important preachers on the east coast led in the "anti-missions" movement, but Elder Parker was the leader on the frontier, and probably spoke best to the common man.

It appears that during this time, Parker was also formulating views on God and man that he would first release in his Views on the Two Seeds (1826). Parker taught that all persons are either of the "good seed" of God or of the "bad seed" of Satan (the children of the good seed are roughly equivalent to the "elect" of Calvinism, and those of the bad seed similar to the "non-elect"), and were predestined that way from the beginning; therefore, mission activity was not only unbiblical but, as a practical matter, useless since the "decision" was already made prior to birth. Many consider his theory a type of Manichaeism.

It seems that Parker spread his "two seeds" far and wide, and a goodly number of the "anti-missions" movement accepted his doctrine, though it never achieved anything near majority status. In 1834, Daniel Parker and others migrated to the Texas frontier. Texas was still part of Mexico and the government would allow no organization of Protestant (non-Catholic) churches in the region. Elder Parker determined to organize a church before he arrived in Texas. The Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church was constituted July 26, 1833 in Illinois. It still exists today, near Elkhart, Texas, though as "Primitive" rather than "Two-Seed." Daniel Parker's name is almost synonymous with "anti-missions", but he was one of the important frontier preachers in Texas, leading in the organization of about nine churches in the eastern part of the state.

After the "missionary" and "anti-missionary" controversy brought division among Baptists, the "anti-missionaries" were called by names such as Old School, Old Regular, Predestinarian, and Primitive (as well as the pejorative "hardshells"). The Two-Seed churches were often connected with the Primitive Baptists and seem to have been so until late in the 19th century. By that time, most Primitive Baptists had excluded the "Two-Seeders" for holding heretical doctrines. Though they hold much in common with Primitive Baptists and often are so identified by outsiders, the Two-Seed churches do not consider themselves Primitive Baptists. Remnants of Two-Seed doctrine can still be heard among a few Primitive Baptists, if one knows what to listen for. The current status (2003) of the Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists appears to be four remaining churches (2 in Texas, and 1 each in Indiana and Tennessee) with approximately 80 members. Two of the churches participate together in the Trinity River Association and two are independent.

Recommended reading

  • Frontier Religion: Elder Daniel Parker, His Religious and Political Life, by Dan B. Wimberly, Eakin Press, 2002
  • Frontier Blood: The Saga of the Parker Family, by Jo Ella Powell Exley, Texas A & M University Press, 2001

Sources

  • Trinity River Association minutes
  • Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
  • Dictionary of Baptists in America, Bill J. Leonard, editor
  • Handbook of Denominations, by Frank S. Mead & Samuel S. Hill

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