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Bulloch History by Roger Allen
The rise of the Primitive Baptists
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This is the fourth in a series of articles about the origins of the Baptist faith in Georgia and Bulloch County.
On May 18, 1814, the regular triennial meeting of the General Missionary Baptist Convention was held in Philadelphia. Francis Weyland and Richard Furman lead the members attending to create a “Baptist Board for Foreign Missions”, which was specifically charged with carrying out an intensive missionary program.
This didn’t sit well with many of the Baptist faithful, who promptly began pulling out of their existing Baptists Associations and forming new ones. Their primary philosophical objection was that Christ had instructed every man to do his own missionary work, and that that was the primary way that an individual could achieve Grace, and therefore, Salvation.
Most churches belonged to the “Hephzibah Association”, which had been created in 1794 as the first major Baptist Association in coastal Georgia. The Liberty and Tattnall “Anti-Missionaries”, who were know being referred to widely as “Primitives”, withdrew and created the Piedmont Association in 1817. One of its first actions was to vote ‘to have nothing to do with Missionaries”.
The “Primitives” in Bulloch, Talbot, Emanuel, Burke, and Washington stayed in the “Hephzibah” until 1828, when they created the new “United” Baptist Association. It’s named was changed to “Canoochie” in 1830. This was the first “Primitive” Baptist Association in the state of Georgia.
The next major clarification of the “Primitive” doctrine was made in September of 1832, in Black Rock, Maryland. The address stated that: ministers would be bi-vocational, working regular jobs in addition to serving God’s calling; meeting houses would be plain and unadorned; music would be limited to a-capella singing without the aid of instrumental accompaniment; and there would be a strict and unyielding church discipline.
Amongst the Primitives there were varying degrees of adherence to their doctrine of the Second London Confession of 1689. The first group was referred to as: the “Absoluters”, who believed in total predestination and God’s election, and were found mostly in Virginia and North Carolina. The second group was referred to as the “Limiteds”, who believed in some evangelical work by the church, and were found throughout the Southeastern United States.
The third group was the “Progressives”, who believed that a relaxation of the strict regulations was permissible,         including starting Sunday Schools and Bible Societies and having some instrumental accompaniment in services, and who were found almost exclusively in Georgia. The last and smallest group, the “Universalists”, believed that salvation was available to all with universal atonement for their sins, and were found in the mountains of Appalachia.
    There were smaller splinter groups, including: the “Crawfordites”, who denied the power of God to raise the dead; the “Youngites”, who accepted non-Primitive baptisms; the “Coonites”, who believed that there was no Hell; and the “Hallites, who believed that mans flesh was holy and not impure.
    Eventually these all coalesced into two main groups of Primitive Baptists: the “Hard Shell”, or “Old Liners”, who believed that God’s teaching was to be followed to the word; and the “Progressives”, who had no problem modifying the original doctrines to accommodate for some minor changes.
    On January 29, 2000, the “Pitts (Georgia) Resolution” of the Old Line School of Primitive Baptists was released. It said that, amongst other things: Missionary work and revivals caused more distraction than harm in the long term; Sunday Schools and Bible Studies were neither recommended by the Apostles nor commanded by Christ; and that Seminaries often teach contradictions to God’s Word; and that the Apostles stated that a man should preach the Word of God with no expectation of rewards, and that to do otherwise was wrong.
    According to the latest figures, there are some 400 Primitive Baptist Churches with nearly 12,000 me3mbers within the state of Georgia. This breaks down to approximately 100 Progressive Primitive Baptist churches with nearly 6000 members within the state of Georgia, and some 300 Old Line Primitive Baptist Churches with approximately 6000  members within the state of Georgia.  
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at roger
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