Below is a snippet from a circular letter published in 1843 for the North River United Baptist Association in 1843. Beginning in 1832, David Andrews an “Arminian” pastor was ousted from Bethel Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa and eventually led in the formation of the North River association. In the 1843 minutes, the circular letter is printed in full:
But Brethren, pause and think back, and take a view of the situation of the churches in this section of country, some ten or twelve years ago, and contrast the condition of the churches then and the condition of the churches now, and we see but a few years have rolled away since the churches were opposed to every benevolent institution of the day, yea the churches were generally in the lap of antinomianism, calvanistic [sic] doctrines in the highest order were promulgated from church to church.
Scarcely anything else to be heard, from those antinomian preachers, but such as this, that Jesus Christ made a particular or a special atonement for a definite number of Adam’s apostate race, and the rest of mankind was past by and ordained to wrath for their sins. Besides all this—any and every other doctrine with those Antinomians was heresy. But Brethren look at the other side and see what a great difference. between the doctrine advanced by those Ministers that now belong to the North River Association. Those ministers preach now like they used to preach which was and is as follows: Christ Jesus made an atonement, general in its nature; that is he tasted death for every man: that the Holy Spirit reproves the world, that God commands all men every where to repent; and that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and also that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; but hath committed unto us the words of reconciliation; and lastly, That the Gospel is the Power of God, unto Salvation to every one that believeth;” and all this or such doctrine as this, were called heresy by those antinomians.1
Some Baptist historians curiously circulate rigid reductionistic views of what, on all accounts, is historically undeniable diversity concerning salvific issues among Baptists of the south. They wrongly conclude that Baptists were virtually united in their acceptance of strict Calvinism. And, while this view might arguably be maintained as long as the historical record is kept an arm’s length away from curious seekers, when even a novice examines the historical record itself, it becomes more difficult still to dismiss the charge of tampering with the evidence.
1Minutes of North River United Baptist Association CONVENED AT SALEM MEETING HOUSE, TUSKALOOSA COUNTY, ALABAMA, On the I5th day of September, 1843.