Daniel Parker: Two Seed in the Spirit Predestinarian Baptists

April 16, 2013

daniel_pareker 

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.

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Randall Cofield

Fascinating article, Ron, and well written. Parker is one of those characters in the Baptist family tree that makes us all cringe. His brand to Hard-shellism has completely died out in my neck of the woods.

This line piqued my curiosity and got me to thinkin’:

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.

How do Traditionalists treat the so-called “Problem of Evil”?

I know the Augustinian Theodicy probably doesn’t appeal to most Trads, and the Irenaean Theodicy easily lends itself to evolution theory and the ever-tempting conclusion of Universalism.

Process Theodicy, possibly? Or something else? Just curious.

Grace to you, brother.

    Ron F. Hale

    Randall,
    Thanks for your kind words and question. Without the time to fully answer your question, may I point you to the chapter written by Dr. Bruce A. Little entitled …Evil and God’s Sovereignty, in the book …Whosoever Will. Lemke,also, has some important things to share. Blessings.

Rick Patrick

Ron,

What a tremendous article profiling the “Wrong, Restless and Reformed” Daniel Parker. We can certainly respect his determination while disputing his determinism.

As for your great uncle Joe teaching Satan’s alleged intercourse with Eve, it chills me to think of how this fabricated distortion of Scripture must have impacted all of the impressionable young children.

I thank God that although you were exposed to such theological confusion as a child, you have matured into one possessing such theological clarity and precision.

Ron F. Hale

Rick,
Always good to hear from you — Uncle Joe was a mess and messed up people “mess up” other people…making our environment a messy place.

Blessings!

David R. Brumbelow

Ron,
Good article. Daniel Parker is a fascinating character. Few today know the problems Baptists had in the 1800s with Calvinism, anti-missions, etc.

Some day you’ll have to also tell us about Cynthia Ann and Quanah.

David R. Brumbelow

Fletcher Law

The Shepherd’s Chapel based in Gravette, Arkansas was founded by Arnold Murray. He teaches a similar heresy called Serpent Seed theology. So this nonsense is still being preached to at least on a strange TV ministry.

volfan007

Fletcher,

I’ve heard this guy, before. I noticed that he was saying some strange things, but I didnt listen to him enough to figure him out. I also know of a man that he messed up. I mean, he led that fella, who was a new Believer, into a mixed up, messed up view, which kept him from joining any Church….he couldnt agree with any of Church.

Interesting….now I know what’s up with that fella in Arkansas.

David

volfan007

Ron,

As usual, very interesting, thought provoking, and well written. You’re a smart fella.

David

Ron F. Hale

Fletcher,
Thanks for the info. I went to their church website and this is what he says about their “Serpent Seed” doctrine:

“Serpent Seed

What about teaching Serpent Seed? I make no apology for teaching the Word of God. In Matthew 13, our Lord and Saviour explains the Parable of the Sower directly to His disciples. He is very explicit about exactly who the sower of the bad seed really is. Matthew 13:37-39 states, “He (Jesus) answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.”

Let no one tell you Christ was speaking in a parable here for He was carefully explaining to His disciples the real meaning of the parable He had previously spoken to the multitude. He talked with them in private, and He used language that a child could understand. Christ’s teaching of the seed of the devil (or serpent) was nothing new, it was taught from the beginning of Scripture – Genesis.

In Genesis 3:15 God is speaking to the serpent, “and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.” The bruising of the heel took place when Christ was nailed to the Cross. And finally, for those who still want further proof as to who the serpent really is; we read in Revelation 12:9, “and the great Dragon was cast out, that old Serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” Now can anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear have any doubt or confusion about Satan’s own seed?”

Recommended additional study lectures on audio CD:

#30146, “Genesis, Chapters 1-6”
#30461, “Seed of the Serpent”

Ron F. Hale

Fletcher and David,

In reading their (above) statement a few times … I would say if they truly lean more toward Parker’s Two Seedism …a lot more could be added orally to their story than they wish to put into print.

Blessings!

Lydia

Oh my word! I have heard of the ‘two seed” doctrine but never the source. I suppose one has to invent some source for evil since the idea that God could create beings who can say no to Him is unthinkable.

Stephen Garrett

Dear Ron:

I have been a student of Hardshell history for many years and have a blog dedicated to countering the Hardshell errors. I would love for you to explain the verse in Genesis where God said that Eve’s conception would be multiplied due to her sin. Parkerites say that sin caused more children to be born than would have been born had there been no sin.

Also, someone should write about how J.M. Peck was the man who more than others fought Paker, holding several debates with him. I wish we could get information on what was said in these debates.

Blessings,

Stephen Garrett

    Ron F. Hale

    Thanks Stephen …I will consider your suggestions. Blessings in your work.

Mary S.

What a reprehensible character this Parker.

The only thing worse than a Daniel Parker for the church and the world is a Charles Finney.

Lydia

Mary, An irony is that many folk had not heard of Finney until Calvin became so popular again.:o) But to call Finney reprehensible? Can you name any folks he used his power to affirm torturing, imprisonment, banishement, burning at the stake?

You may disagree with Finney’s doctrine but what did he teach that is on par with Eve having sex with Satan that makes him equally reprehensible as Parker is to you?

    Mary S.

    Lydia, we’ll besides Finney’s denial of the Gospel (and he outlines his denial of the Gospel quite clearly in his systematic theology), Finney also likely led thousands of people to put faith in themselves and their own righteousness, and thus doomed them to their own eternal torture, imprisonment, banishement and burning in Hell.

    Finney is an obvious heretic.

      Norm Miller

      Finney doomed people to hell, Mary S.?
      According to Calvin, God does that.
      There is no way Finney “doomed them to their own eternal torture, imprisonment, banishement and burning in Hell” … not if they were among the elect, the Calvinist would say, right? — Norm

        Mary S.

        Finney led people to put faith in themselves, faith in their own righteousness, rather than faith in Christ.

        Yes. He is the modern man who intruduced “the altar call” many pattern themselves after and, unfortunately, hold him up as a supposed hero. But Finney is a wolf among sheep who led countless people astray.

          Norm Miller

          W/all due respect, Mary, you evaded my question. How could Finney lead people to destruction if they were already headed that way? Your accusation is w/o teeth and denies Calvinistic tenets. Of course, this points to one of the glaring problems with Calvinists who complain about a Sinner’s Prayer, or evangelists who employ ‘tactics,’ etc. The Cs’ complaints in this regard point to a degradation, IMHO, regarding Cs’ view of sovereignty. No evangelist (nor anyone like Finney) could preach the non-elect into heaven or the elect into hell. — Norm

            Mary S.

            Norm, the problem I have with your question is that I feel it evades the crux of the matter. But I’ll play along: You are right when you say that, from a Calvinist perspective, nothing Finney does could preach the non-elect into heaven or the elect in to Hell. Actually, even I agree with that statement (even from my own semi-Calvinist position he did not change eternity.). But for me, the crux of the matter is that both Cals and Trads should be equally offended by a guy who led people to put faith in themselves, rather than in Christ. Trads and Cals should be equally offended that he calls the Cals’ gospel and the Trads’ gospel a different gospel. And especially Trads should be offended that other Trads continue to hold Finney up as a hero evangelist, than what he actual was.

            Lydia

            But for me, the crux of the matter is that both Cals and Trads should be equally offended by a guy who led people to put faith in themselves, rather than in Christ.”

            Mary, I am offended by a man who thought he could ascertain who would go to hell or not based upon his own interpretations of scripture and to help the process along. And the whole irony is that the Genevans were forced to attend church so who would know? The ones who dared disagree were banished, tortured, imprisoned for burned.

            So I find your repulsion to Finney a bit curious. I think I would rather be ruled by a Finney if I have to be ruled.

            Mary S.

            Well, that is where we would obviously disagree, Lydia. While Calvin was a great man of God and a blessing to the church, Finney was a worthless clown, a joke, and some people, even today, do not have enough discernment to realize that they idolize a fraud.

Mary S.

Hopefully, Traditionalists will not adopt all of Finney’s denials of imputation (1. Finney denies the imputation of Adam’s sin to us; 2. Finney denies the imputation of our sin to Christ, and 3. Finney denies the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers):

“The Doctrine of a literal imputation of Adam’s sin to all his posterity, of the literal imputation of all the sins of the elect to Christ, and of his suffering for them the exact amount due to the transgressors, of the literal imputation of Christ’s righteousness or obedience to the elect, and the consequential perpetual justification of all that are converted from the first exercise of faith, whatever their subsequent life may be- I say I regard these dogmas as fabulous, and better befitting a romance than a system of theology.”

Finney also says that Southern Baptists, and Christians who believe like them, have a different Gospel:

“They maintain that after this first act of faith it is impossible for the sinner to come into condemnation; that, being once justified, he is always thereafter justified, whatever he may do; indeed that he is never justified by grace, as to sins that are past, upon condition that he ceases to sin; that Christ’s righteousness is the ground, and that his own present obedience is not even a condition of his justification, so that, in fact, his own present or future obedience to the law of God is, in no case, and in no sense, a sine qua non of his justification, present or ultimate. Now this is certainly another gospel from the one I am inculcating. It is not a difference merely upon some speculative or theoretic point. It is a point fundamental to the gospel and to salvation, if any one can be. Let us therefore see which of these is the true gospel. I object to this view of justification.”

Charles Finney, Systematic Theology

Ron F. Hale

Mary S,
I would suggest that you spend a little more time in writing an article on Finney and submit to SBC Today or SBC Voices but for this article and thread we are talking about a man named Daniel Parker. Sense he did preach the doctrines of sovereign Grace, I’m sure you have a few nice things to share about his work?

    Mary S.

    I have nothing good to say about Daniel Parker, I’m afraid. I do not claim him as my own.

Robert Vaughn

Though Mary has nothing good to say about Daniel Parker, some folks actually have said good things about him. J. M. Peck, whom Stephen referenced above, certainly was not one of them. They were apparently arch-foes and I think much of the derogatory personal information about Parker can be traced back to Peck.

On the other hand, Levi Roberts, a missionary Baptist who opposed Parker’s theology, would write that he knew Parker and “always considered him a good man, possessing a warm heart, a clear head and giant intellect…” (From The Banner and Pioneer, June 5, 1847).

J. M. Carroll declared that Daniel Parker’s ministry “left a mighty empress on East Texas” – whether one was Missionary or Anti-Missionary Baptist. Carroll obviously disagreed with Parker, but was clearly impressed by the missionary work of the anti-missionary preacher, noting “And as a result of these various services, over this large territory, organized, through its own efforts, nine new churches. How many churches in Texas, country or city, can show such a record? (A History of Texas Baptists, W. T. Parmer gives 11 rather than 9).

Can’t find it right now, but I remember reading an article (I think in The Quarterly Review or Baptist History and Heritage) in which the author wrote that he believed that Parker developed the two-seed theology to try to reconcile why God would elect certain people and leave others out — obviously, those others belonged to the devil from the start!

Interestingly, Daniel Parker’s unique Two-Seed doctrine did not survive in his own church and association.

Ron F. Hale

Robert,
Thanks for your additional comments and information!

John Wylie

Man I would have loved to have seen this conversation go on a little longer. This was of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while. Thanks Ron.

    Ron F. Hale

    John,
    Thanks! I appreciate you taking the time to read and share a positive word. Parker was a force to be reckoned with! Blessings.

Robert Vaughn

You’re welcome, Ron. I apologize that I was so wrapped up in writing what I was thinking that I forgot to thank you for the very enjoyable article! I like your history posts, and Daniel Parker is a peculiar interest of mine — for several reasons, including very distant relations and his (and his family’s) impact on the very area where I live. I have attended the Old Pilgrim Church he brought from Illinois, and once visited the only surviving “Two-Seed” church in Texas (that I am aware of).

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