Daniel Parker: Two Seed in the Spirit Predestinarian Baptists

April 16, 2013


Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, family reunions became part of my cultural education.   My kinfolk were mostly one or two generations removed from being church-going people. Therefore, after the Sunday dinner, the men of our clan enjoyed an assortment of thirst-quenchers.  Wash tubs filled with ice and colorful cans of Falstaff, Pabst, Schlitz (opened with church keys) seemed to pacify them as some played Gibson guitars and bowl-back mandolins under a parasol of Pin oaks; while others listened, sang, or danced an occasional Scot-Irish jig.

One Sunday after sundown, my great uncle Joe (being led by the spirits) gave his nephews a Bible lesson that we never soon forgot.  He told how the serpent in the garden of Eden seduced the woman named Eve and had sexual relations with her (I forget his exact idioms). The world was never right after that. He declared that within mankind there are those born with the good seed and those with the serpent seed; with the latter destined for the everlasting lake of fire. I got scared but faked gallantry.

I didn’t know it then, but that was my first run-in with the folktale version of Elder Daniel Parker’s “Two Seedism” doctrine.

According to one author, Daniel Parker was without formal education (his wife taught him to read and write), uncouth in manner, slovenly in dress, diminutive in person, unprepossessing in appearance, with a small piercing eye and shriveled features.[1]  Yet, from Tennessee to Texas, he left a stringer of his unique brand of Primitive Baptist congregations (Hardshellers), thereby, giving evidence that he was a leader.[2] Most flavors of Calvinistic Baptists enjoy a fleeting flicker of free-will in their proclamation, but Elder Parker’s discordant determinism put many Hardshellers on guard of his gospel.

The more popular handed-down version of the “Two Seed” dualistic theory postulates that the Serpent did not tempt Eve with fruit but sexually seduced her.  After sexual intercourse, the Serpent (Satan) impregnated Eve with her firstborn son, Cain. The theory then teaches that Eve soon had sexual relations with Adam (her husband) and was impregnated with Abel; therefore, she gave birth to fraternal twins — one with the good seed and one with the serpent seed.

I was ready to roll out an article with this version until I discovered a reprint of his original writings.  Elder Parker states in his writings that he does not believe the serpent physically had sexual relations with Eve.  With that stated, the logic of his theology is not easy to track.

Rev. R. E. Pound shares the 2004 edition of Daniel Parker’s work entitled Treatise on the Two Seeds; this edition was the work of Mark Thomas with Rev. Pound making comments and adding paragraph headers and subject introductions.[3]  The original work was published by Elder Parker in 1826 and again in 1923.

Rev. Pound is careful to say that Elder Daniel Parker held to a form of Persian semi-Manicheanism,[4] or the self-existence of evil, a view not held by Old School Baptists or Particular Baptists. He explains that Parker held that evil and the Devil are self-existent.  His reason for this was that a Good God would not produce such a being as a Devil.  This Elder Parker considered totally a contradiction of God’s attributes.  Therefore he concluded that the Devil was self-existent and had his seed with him.  The Devil brought about the fall of Adam and Eve; and, by this was able to place, through Adam and his fallen nature, his seed in Eve.  Pound states however, that Parker did not believe that Satan had any sexual contact with Eve except through Adam.

In the main body of the document, Parker says, “Some may think I believe the Serpent cohabited with the woman.  Certainly he did, so far as to beget the wicked, sinful principle and nature in her, which, was the cause of the sentence being passed against her by her Maker: – but not to beget children by her, in no other way but through or by the man, which, as her husband had received the forbidden fruit, and partook of the same principle and nature of Satan.”

Parker uses Genesis 3:15-16 to establish his doctrine of two-seedism; I will share the verse and some of his commentary.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, and it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:15-16).

Parker says, “We should now observe with attention, first, that the existence of two seeds is here fully expressed, and the distinction plainly made between the two, as one being the serpent’s seed, and the other being the woman’s seed. Second. That the woman’s seed here spoken of, was Christ, and that Christ is elsewhere spoken of as the son of man, the seed of David, Abraham, &c. which will show that the man and woman are but one, and that God now speaking respecting the serpent, and the woman, speaks of her seed in contradistinction to the serpent’s seed …” [5]

In studying his life and ministry, I do not agree with him for many reasons, four in particular:  his strange serpent seed doctrine, and his own twist of supralapsarianism theology, his view of a self-existent Devil, and finally his fierce anti-missionary preaching due to his hyper-Calvinism.  With that said, I respect his indomitable spirit!

With very limited education, Elder Parker became a theologian, publisher, and author in his own right and made a name for himself in the anti-missionary movement.  Parker was elected a state senator, personally planted churches in at least three states; and, all this with a face that only a Mother could love.

Just my “two cents” on the two seeds!

© Ron F. Hale, March 9, 2013

[2] Elder Parker was born in Culpeper County, Virginia in 1781 and was the son of John Parker, a soldier in General George Washington’s army.  The family moved to Georgia where Daniel became a professed believer in 1802, and was licensed to the Gospel ministry by Nail’s Creek church.   After matrimony, his family moved to Dickson County, Tennessee where he organized the Turnbull Baptist church and this congregation ordained Parker to the ministry.


Eventually, Elder Parker moved to Illinois and found success as a state senator, publisher of the Church Advocate, and started the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church.  His last big move was relocating his church to Anderson County, Texas where enough churches were eventually planted that a Baptist Association was formed.  Elder Parker died on Dec.3, 1844 and is buried in his church cemetery near Elkhart, Texas.