Comments by Missionary Baptist Historians
Regarding Bethel Association

History of the Franklin Association, W. P. Throgmorton, 1880.

Introduction, page ix-xiii: "This extract [quoted from Old Baptist Test, by Joh Watson] clearly shows that up to 1836, the Tennessee Baptists were missionary. In that year the Hardshells left them, and formed a separate union. And Dr. Watson's testimony is that after the NEW union was formed, it had as bad an element of heresy in it, as what they had withdrawn from! The Baptists of Southern Illinois remained together until two or three years later. These Baptists had a common origin with those of Tennessee, and like them and those of Virginia, were called "United Baptists." Especially was this true of the Bethel Association, the one with which we have most to deal in this work [History of Franklin Association]. That the Bethel Association was in correspondence and fellowship with the Missionary Baptists of Tennessee is proven by the fact that members from the churches of that state prior to 1836, as well as afterward, were received on their letters into full fellowship in the churches here. Elder Wilfred Ferrell who came from Tennessee in 1836 may be cited as a case. The Bethel Association at its meeting with Bethlehem Church, Franklin (now Williamson) county, in 1838, requested the churches in their next letters to say whether or not they would fellowship the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions and its various branches. That all may see just how the matter came up, we quote from the minutes of that year: "20th. Received a request from Salem Church, requesting this association to refer the subject of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions and its various branches to the churches of this association. 21st. This association request the churches to say in their next letter to this association, whether they fellowship the system, yea, or nay." In 1839, the association met near Frankfort, Illinois, and this missionary question came up. Some of the churches had answered. Some had not. All however that sent in answers at all were against fellowshipping the mission system. After a very sharp debate the association decided by a vote against the Board of Foreign Missions, and all the churches which had not sent in answers to this effect were considered in disorder, and were charged with having treated the association with contempt. At this meeting it was also moved that the name of the association be changed from "United Baptist," to "Regular Baptist." Up to this time, the Bethel Association had been in fellowship with the body of Baptists generally, by whom the Board of Foreign Missions was sustained. But here it took a NEW stand and a NEW name. And the name was changed without the authority of the churches! The brethren who voted against the change of name - although in the minority - held themselves to be the true Bethel United Baptist Association, and proceeded to appoint the time and place for holding the next meeting of the association. I have learned this from Elder Hosea Vise, who was present at the meeting. Accordingly, in the next year, 1840, there were two associations instead of one. There was the Bethel Association of Regular Baptists, and the Bethel Association of United Baptists, each claiming to be the regular association. The Bethel Association of United Baptists held its meeting with the Mt. Pleasant Church, Franklin county. Four churches were represented, viz: Ten Mile Creek, Hamilton county; Mt. Pleasant, Franklin county; Unity, Williamson county; and Concord, Jefferson county. In their minutes they proceed to show the cause of their diminished numbers as follows: "5th. Resolved, that we enter on the face of our minutes, the cause of our number being reduced. 6th. Ordered, that a committee of three be appointed for the above cause, viz: Elder R. Moore, John Browning, and S. M. Williams." In item 7th, we find their report: "By and with the advice and consent of the churches, this association was called United Baptist. In 1839, at the request of one church, the association altered her name to Regular Baptist, as we believe for the purpose of establishing the doctrine of fatality, or partial atonement. We, the United Baptists, stand as we were without variation, and view our dissenting brethren as dissenters, having gone out from us, because they are not of us; and we are not accountable for them in any way. Churches or individuals that stand fast, we still regard as brethren and invite their attention. This accounts for the reduction of our numbers." In Item 11th, we find this: "Ordered, that John Browning, Bro. Isaac herrin, and M. Carpenter, attend the Regular Baptist association and demand our papers and money that belong to us the "United Baptist Association." It thus appears that the "United Baptists" kept the old name and the old platform. The other party took a new name and assumed a new ground. Up to 1839, Missionism was not regarded as a ground for disfellowship. After that, by the "Hardshell" party it was.

Chapter 1, pages 19-20: "The ministers of the Bethel Association which occupied much of the territory now covered by the Franklin, were as follows: Milton Carpenter, Robert Moore, John Browning, Noble Anderson, William Davis, Isaac Herrin, George Stacy, John P. Maddox, and John Manis. This association was not so badly divided doctrinally as some others. All the ministers named, except two, held that the provisions of salvation are made free to all men by the gospel, and that it is the duty of all men to repent. The two exceptions - Elders Maddox and Davis - were rather extreme Calvinists, but not "two-seeders." "Two-seedism" prevailed more largely in the Muddy River association. Perhaps two-thirds of its ministers were of that persuasion. Little by little however the pernicious heresy grew, until it became a power in the Bethel. It had much to do with causing the division in 1839; perhaps as much or more than the Missionary question."

The ministers left in the association [after 1839] were as follows: John Browning, S. M. Williams, Robert Moore, Milton Carpenter, and Isaac Herrin."

This page maintained by: Robert Webb - (