THE BAPTIST STUDIES BULLETIN
"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"
April 2002 Vol. 1 No. 4
Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Walter B. Shurden, Executive Director and Editor, BSB
Greg Thompson, Baptist Studies Associate
Table of Contents:
I Believe . . .: by Walter B. Shurden
"Why I Wish We Could Have Gone Home to the American Baptists"
The Baptist Soapbox: by A. Roy Medley
A New Leader Gives His Vision Statement for the American Baptists
A BSB Special: The American Baptist Identity Statement
A BSB Double Special: by Alan Neely
Alan Neely reviews Duke McCall: An Oral History
Baptists and Books: by Rob Nash
Rob Nash reacts to three books on American Religion
The Baptist Library: Baptist Books: by Jeff Pool
Jeff B. Pool reviews McClendons three volume theology
The Baptist Stacks: Perusing Periodicals for Baptistiana: by Pam Durso
Pam Durso reads about ministry in the journals with Baptist eyes
Baptist Bits: by Doug Weaver
Doug Weaver surveys the Baptist past for quotes for preaching and teaching
Q and A: by Greg Thompson
Should CBF and ABC work toward closer cooperation in their ministries?
Baptistville: by Greg Thompson
Happenings in Baptistville
"Why I Wish We Could Have Gone Home to the American Baptists"
by Walter B. Shurden
I Believe . . .
that the American Baptist Churches, USA, have a good thing going and that Baptists of every neighborhood need to know more about them. Let me turn my cards face up and without subtlety or ambiguity state my case: I wish that when the conservatives/moderates/liberalsthe CBF kinds of Baptistsexited the fundamentalist SBC leadership beginning back in 1990 we had been able to hook back up with the ABCUSA. Why do I wish this?
One, I wish CBF kinds of Baptists had returned to the ABC because historically the ABC is our original home. We did not begin in this country as Southern Baptists and Northern Baptists. We began as Baptists in America, united by a fierce struggle for religious liberty, a timid commitment to theological education, and eventually, though not initially, an enormous passion for sharing the Jesus story with the world. Shackled by culture and the sin of slavery in the mid-nineteenth century, we Southerners left our sisters and brothers of the North, and while most of us have repented of racism, we unfortunately have never found it necessary to repent of our sectarian denominationalism. We were wrong to take our cue from culture rather than Christ, and we were wrong to take our marbles and go to Augusta in 1845.
Two, I wish CBF kinds of Baptists had returned to the ABC in the early nineties because the ABC tolerates diversity in good Baptist fashion. They dont do this without a struggle, and they do not do it perfectly, but they do it about as well as any denomination in America. My kind of Baptists in the South need and deserve a big tent. We are not alike in our worship, in our ethics, or in our theology.
Three, I wish CBF kinds of Baptists had gone toward our ABC kinfolk because the ABC is an ecumenical denomination. Every Baptist I run with down here, clergy and laity, is more ecumenical than sectarian. My kind of Baptists in my neighborhood belong in an ecumenical setting, a setting that is both ecumenical and denominational, a setting that believes in the Great Church as well as the autonomy of all the churches.
Four, I wish CBF kinds of Baptists had gone back home in the early nineties because the people at the old home place know what it means to be Baptist. If you dont believe it, read their identity statement printed below as a BSB Special. Being narrow is not the only way to have an identity! Being fundamentalist or liberal are not the only ways to be Baptist Christians, but fundamentalists and liberals can come to the party, too, if they will not lock others out. Read the ABC identity statement!
Five, I wish CBF kinds of Baptists had gone back home because the ABCUSA is committed to a multi-colored family of faith. Back when Roy Medley was the head Baptist with the New Jersey Baptist Convention, I spoke at one of their gatherings. It looked more like church than any group I have ever preached to-- red and yellow, black and white.
Six, I wish CBF kinds of Baptists had gone back home because today, when I read the excellent CBF Web site and then I turn and read the excellent ABC Web site, I see so many similarities, and so many of the same values, so many of the same commitments. The spiritual DNA looks very much the same to me.
Dont get me wrong. I love the CBF. Like hundreds of others, I had a very, very small part in its beginning. Cecil Sherman and Daniel Vestal are in my private hall of heroes. CBF needed birthing, given the circumstances and the times. Going home to the ABC was virtually impossible at the time, because we were Baptist individuals rather than Baptist churches. So, CBF is my denominational home. CBF is where Kay and I give our money. CBF gets our denominational energy. However, I am so enormously grateful for the cooperative labors of CBF and ABC, in matters of ministerial annuity, historical concerns, church planting, theological education, and other areas. I wish for us to know each other better, to engage in more common labors and in greater depth.
During the SBC controversy, while I was still on the faculty at Southern Seminary, a graduate student of mine, knowing how grieved I was about the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC, met me in Norton Hall and said, "I dreamed about you last night." He said, "I dreamed your old home place out in the country in Mississippi burned down, and we got there too late to save it; we could do nothing but watch it burn to the ground."
But one has many "homes" in a lifetime, doesnt one? The SBC was my past home, no doubt about it. The CBF is my contemporary home, no question about it. But the ABC is my historical home, and there is no question about that either. So I plead with my CBF contemporary home that I love and my ABC historical home that I admire and respect, PLEASE!, LETS MOVE CLOSER TOGETHER IN THE SERVICE OF CHRIST! Candidly, I am willing to work on building one bigger house for both of us. I wonder: Are there any architects, contractors, carpenters, and bricklayers out there reading this?
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The Baptist Soapbox: Invited guests speak up and out on things Baptist (therefore, the views expressed in this space are not necessarily those of The Baptist Studies Bulletin, though sometimes they are).
EDITORS NOTE: A. Roy Medley, native of Columbus, GA, graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, adopted son of American Baptists, husband of Lutheran pastor, Dr. Patricia Staufferr Medley, D.Min student at Columbia Theological Seminary, father of two sons, former executive of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, recently accepted the call to serve as General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA. Here is his vision statement, clear and focused, cataractless and without floaters.
"Centererd in Christ: A Vision Statement for the ABCUSA"
A. Roy Medley
"He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authoritiesall things were created through, in and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." Col 1:15-20
My vision for ABCUSA is that we become increasingly centered in Christ as his disciples.
To be centered in Christ is to find in him our true home and our true identity as children of God. As Baptists we are unabashedly Christocentric in our worship, our theology, our hymnody, and our spirituality. We are a Jesus people, captured by his love and grace, who know that life--true life, eternal life--is found in Christ alone. Centered in Christ, we will become a disciplined people. We will discover that God has set us radically free in order that we might become radically obedient. Our lives will be marked by the disciplines of prayer, study of Scripture, meditation, faithful stewardship, spiritual practices and worship which center us and open us to Christs presence and will. We will know the joy of living in Christs Spirit in a manner which transforms our lives.
Centered in Christ, we will embrace his cross and his resurrection. We will understand that to die to ourselves is to experience the power to be reborn in God. We will take up our cross daily knowing it will transform our perspective, our priorities, our purposes. In dying daily, we will discover the power of new life, resurrection life, flooding our souls. Empowered by God, we will embrace the sorrow and alienation of the world in ministries of reconciliation, hope, healing and life.
Centered in Christ, we will be a worshipping community. We will anticipate and celebrate the mighty acts of God in our midst. The heart of our life together will be worship. We will glorify the one true God in the power of the Spirit through Christ Jesus. In our worship we will sing the wondrous deeds of our God and rejoice in Gods goodness to us. We will proclaim Gods unfailing love and grace. We will manifest Gods majesty and experience Gods presence. We will boldly declare before all the earth how great is Gods salvation.
Centered in Christ, we will be a good news people. The heart of our gospel is that God is love. In our life together, the world will see the power of forgiveness to overcome alienation, the strength of love to transform hate, the potency of grace to break the bonds of guilt, the triumph of hope over despair, the victory of faith over doubt. In ministries of evangelism, we will share Christs gracious invitation to new life in him with all. We will invite them to share in the life of his body, and to commit to his mission.
Centered in Christ, we will be a confessional people. We will acknowledge that we hold the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels. Humility will characterize our life together as we remember that Gods ways are not our ways, nor are Gods thoughts our thoughts. We will understand ourselves as sinners saved by grace who still manifest the brokenness of sin in our lives. Such humility will enlarge our hearts to receive others.
Centered in Christ, we will be a missional people. As the church, we will understand we exist for the sake of the world because God wills that all might be reconciled in Christ Jesus. Local congregations will find renewal as mission outposts established to do the works of Christ, to call the world to faith in God in Christ. Through renewed congregations, people will encounter the life-giving, life-transforming power of the Spirit present for them. Through renewed congregations, communities will experience the power of God to transform unjust structures and dysfunctional relationships. Through renewed congregations, the people of God will be empowered and sent forth in ministry in Christs name.
Centered in Christ, we will embrace the world as neighbor. Our vision for world mission will energize a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, new church development, social justice, healing, peacemaking, economic development and education. We will welcome the vitality of the younger churches of the two-thirds world in mission to us, and we will work together in mutual submission, humility, and love that the gospel might be preached in all the world.
Centered in Christ we will treasure the insights of our Baptist tradition. We will hold dear the authority of scripture; soul freedom; a believers church; the priesthood of all believers; religious liberty and the separation of church and state, while being open to the richness and insights and mutual correction of other communions.
Centered in Christ, we will model a new multiracial/multiethnic community. For a small band of believers we have made a disproportionate contribution to modern history. Our contribution has included: Religious Liberty in the 17th-18th centuries; World Mission in the 19th century; and Social Justice in the 20th Century. Centered in Christ, in the 21st Century we will be in the forefront of creating a community of faith where people of every race, nationality and culture are gathered as one in work, service, and worship of Christ our Lord and Savior: not a color-blind community, but a color-affirming community where we celebrate the kaleidoscope of Gods creation and relish the rich hues of humanity.
As General Secretary
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will bear the people of God before God in prayer.
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will model compassion, mercy, justice and humility.
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will lead with integrity, passion, and fidelity.
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will help forge a common vision which empowers all of American Baptist life for mission and ministry.
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will call American Baptists to be a servant people.
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will invite American Baptists to a deeper walk with Christ and greater unity with one another.
Centered in Christ, the General Secretary will assist American Baptists to proclaim the gospel and its power unto salvation.
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A BSB Special:<http://www.abc-usa.org/idstate.html>
With Baptist brothers and sisters around the world, we believe:
We affirm that God through Jesus Christ calls us to be:
A Redeemed People
A Biblical People
A Worshiping People
A Mission People
An Interdependent People
A Caring People
An Inclusive People
A Contemporary People
We further believe
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A BSB Double Special:
A BSB Special Review of Duke McCalls Oral History by Alan Neely, Henry W. Luce Professor of Ecumenics and Mission Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary.
Duke McCall, An Oral History with A. Ronald Tonks. Brentwood, TN: Baptist History and Heritage Society, 2001. Pp. 479. $25.00 paper.
Ordinarily an oral history is not recorded with the intent of its being published later. Rather, oral histories are done to preserve important facts, and to allow listeners to hear the voice, sense the emotions, and experience what it was like to be in the subjects presence. This book, however, deserved to be published, primarily because of the role Duke McCall played in Southern as well as in wider Baptist life for more than a half century. As one would expect, it is his recollections of events--both positive and tragic--and as any work of this kind, it is biased, often selective, and finally incomplete. It concludes in 1985. Most readers will be disappointed that the story ends before the fundamentalists completed their takeover of the SBC. It would be helpful to know McCalls subsequent assessment of what has happened in the SBC and to Southern Seminary to which he gave so much of his life.
Personally, I think the sub-title should not be "An Oral History," but rather "Confessions of a Consummate Denominational Politician." This is not to denigrate Duke McCall or politicians. Politics is a part of life, a necessary, ineradicable, and often an honorable part of life. But politics can be other than honorable, and McCalls reminiscences reveal this fact. He was, without doubt, one of the most able, sometimes wily and unfeeling politicians in SBC history. But in the 1980s, McCall was simply out-maneuvered by a gang of ruthless politicos who were more wily and unfeeling than he.
It is good and beneficial that Ronald Tonks persuaded McCall to record his recollections. I found them to be extraordinarily absorbing as well as helpful in understanding the man, how he thought, and how he lived.
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Baptists and Books, Notes of books on American religion, what they say, dont say, almost say, and mis-say about Baptists, by Dr. Rob Nash, Dean of the School of Religion and International Programs, Shorter College, Rome, Georgia.
So, Must We Learn Rather Than Teach?
Philip Jenkins. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 270 pp.
Sometimes we fail to see the forest for the trees. This pithy saying sums up Philip Jenkins opinion of our tendency to speak of the effects of modernism, feminism, and environmentalism upon religion in the United States and western Europe while ignoring the influence of the explosive growth of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Jenkins refers to this transition as Christianitys renewal in such places as Africa and Asia for it was on these continents that Christianity flourished in its first few centuries. His book acknowledges that Christianity in the northern hemisphere is atrophying, while Christianity in the southern hemisphere is rapidly changing to meet the spiritual needs of this part of the world.
Why should Baptists read it? Well, weve been at the forefront of the Protestant world mission movement that is, arguably, the greatest contribution of western Christianity. Were in the midst of learning to value the perspectives of southern (hemisphere) Christians. Jenkins warns against the prevailing idea among northerners (not Yankees, but northern hemisphere dwellers) that "our" Christianity is the right one and that somehow weve got to communicate it to the poor souls in the southern hemisphere who dont have the brains to understand it as clearly as we do. He argues, in the end, that southern Christians actually have much more in common with the Bible and its world than we northerners do. Themes of persecution, exorcism, and healing are much better understood in the south. And its quite possible that we northerners are actually the ones who face a pretty steep learning curve.
Would You Like To See The Big Picture?
Andrew Delbanco. The Real American Dream: A Meditation on Hope. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1999. 143 pp.
My students love short books. And, if Im perfectly honest, so do Iespecially ones that somehow contribute to my understanding of the reality in which I live. This little book by Andrew Delbanco, Professor of Humanities at Columbia University, contains his 1998 William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization, delivered at Harvard University. In three lectures, Delbanco helps us to understand how the concepts of God, Nation, and Self have shaped the American reality through three different phases of our national history. For the first couple of hundred years, the Christian Story shaped our reality. In time, God was dethroned and the notion of human citizenship reflected in our participation in a common national life defined our reality. The trauma of the 1960s then led to the elevation of the human self as the center of reality.
Glenn Hinson, a teaching mentor, used to encourage us to see the big picture in religious history, the development of ideas that shaped cultures. This is why Delbancos book is so important. It offers the handles that we sometimes need to be able to understand who we are as a people. I define religion as the way in which a particular group of people answer the ultimate questions of human existence. Delbanco holds up a mirror that enables us to see ourselves (as Americans) for who we really are. And he leaves us to work out the details of what these images ultimately mean.
But Will This Improve the Atlanta Traffic?
Joel Kotkin. The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution is Reshaping the American Landscape. New York: Random House, 2000. 240 pp.
Walter Truett Anderson has said that "Reality isnt what it used to be." Joel Kotkin helps us to understand why. His scintillating assessment of the influence of the digital revolution upon American patterns of community posits that cities will cease to be industrial centers and will become the focus of intelligence and artistic creativity. His point is that the digital age makes it possible for people to locate businesses where they want to locate them in order to have the highest quality of life for themselves and their employees. But he also argues against the prevailing notion that this will lead to a sense of "placelessness." Instead, cities will become much better places to live in and will attract people to them.
Kotkin posits that people will increasingly move to what he terms "nerdistans," cluster locations where the quality of life is high and people can avoid unsightly strip malls and heavy traffic. Small town life will return with a vengeance as people flee the difficulties of big city life. And its vitally important for good Baptist folk to keep up with these trends since were in the business of providing for the spiritual needs of the people who seem to be tired of that big city life.
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The Baptist Library: Notes of books, past and present, by and about Baptists, by Dr. Jeff B. Pool, Special Assistant to the President, Director of Baptist Studies, and Professor of Theology, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University; Fort Worth, Texas.
Moral "baptist" Convictions
McClendon, James Wm., Jr. Systematic Theology: Ethics. Vol. 1. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986. 384 pp.
In this book, and in the larger three-volume project of which it represents the first volume, James Wm. McClendon, Jr. initiates a systematic theology from one Baptist perspective: more accurately, as he preferred to describe it, from one "baptist" perspective. Although a Baptist of the Southern Baptist Convention by heritage, McClendon derived the inspiration for the development of his own distinctive perspective from the Mennonite theological ethicist, John Howard Yoder. As a result of Yoder's influence, McClendon adopted a perspective shaped by traditions and doctrine that originated in the so-called "radical" (Anabaptist) reformations of the sixteenth century, which McClendon describes as "the baptist vision."
McClendon begins his systematic theology with ethics, moral theology, or reflection on Christian morality, precisely because, in the "baptist" vision that McClendon affirms, the theologian writes the theology of the community, describing and elaborating the church's web of "common convictions." Thus, in this first volume, McClendon begins with the community's experience, "finding the shape of the common life in the body of Christ," which he calls "ethics" (p. 45). McClendon creatively organizes the structure of his Ethics with the major moments in the Christian narratives about Jesus as the Christ: incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. Correlative to this larger threefold narrative structure, McClendon develops his ethics with studies of the lives of exemplary Christian disciples: (1) Sarah and Jonathan Edwards, (2) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and (3) Dorothy Day.
Although McClendon's "baptist" vision tends to assume and promote a sort of theological sectarianism, with such a sharp distinction between church and world, this first volume represents a creative "baptist" theology, even if it differs significantly from the major streams of the larger Baptist vision. All Baptists and baptists, however, will receive much inspiration and food for thought from this sensitive and profound study.
Doctrinal "baptist" Convictions
McClendon, James Wm., Jr. Systematic Theology: Doctrine. Vol. 2. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994. 536 pp.
In the first volume of his Systematic Theology, McClendon announced "doctrine" as the focus of his second volume, which he then described as "historical theology," the display of the "height and breadth and depth," through investigation, of "the common and public teaching that sanctions and supports [the church's] common life" (Ethics, pp. 41, 45). His second volume, then, seeks to elaborate the church's "doctrinal convictions," by answering the following question: "what must be taught in today's churches if they are to be what they claim to be?" (p. 21).
Despite McClendon's identification of doctrine as "historical theology," he avoids merely a descriptive task in this volume, endeavoring to state doctrinal norms for the present (p. 24). One may rightly wonder whether McClendon has confused historical theology with dogmatic theology in his project. In any case, this tendency extends the experiential and practical direction of McClendon's first volume. In this respect, he develops a "practical understanding of doctrine," in which doctrines serve a larger end beyond themselves and, like games, "proceed according to rules" (p. 28). Readers should note how much McClendon's perspective both resembles and owes to the new postliberalism of George Lindbeck and others. Although McClendon continues his narrative theological approach in this volume, due to various limitations, he was unable to develop as systematically his narrative use of exemplary Christian disciples for each of the divisions of this book. Nevertheless, McClendon does construct the larger narrative framework of this second volume with reference to the three persons of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This book represents perhaps the best example to date of a "baptist" theology done from the perspective of the new postliberalism.
Philosophical "baptist" Convictions
McClendon, James Wm., Jr. and Murphy, Nancey. Systematic Theology: Witness. Vol. 3. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000. 466 pp. ISBN 0-687-09823-8.
In the final volume of his Systematic Theology, McClendon, with his spouse, Nancey Murphy (who writes chapter three), addresses that which he described in volume one as "philosophical theology or apologetics," the task of "discovering those apologetic and speculative positions that [Christian] life and [Christian] teaching call forth" (Ethics, p. 45), that which he described in his second volume as "philosophical convictions," categories "that open out into a Christian vision or worldview" (Doctrine, p. 21). In this last portion of his project, McClendon describes his effort as a "theology of culture" and "missiology," which comprises both "the delineation of the mission field, and the strategy and tactics of the mission to that field" (p. 18) hence, the title of this third volume: Witness.
Consistent with the countercultural theological sectarianism of the two previous volumes, this third volume finds its place in H. Richard Niebuhr's typology as "Christ against culture." This trait appears clearly in McClendon's focus on the notion of martyrdom. Clearly, the sorts of theology of culture and missiology proposed here operate on the basis of a conception of witness as confrontation with culture. In spite of the sectarian tendencies of his larger project, as consistently and forcefully realized even in this final portion of his trilogy, McClendon's project creatively presents the "baptist" vision as a strong and popular theological option for the larger religious culture of North America.
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The Baptist Stacks: Perusing Periodicals for Baptistiana: Notes of journal articles: what they say, dont say, almost say, and mis-say about Baptists by Pam Durso who is Assistant Professor of Church History and Baptist Heritage at Campbell University Divinity School at Buies Creek, North Carolina.
David Wood, "The Best Life: Eugene Peterson on Pastoral Ministry," Christian Century 119:6 (March 13-20, 2002), 18-25.
One of the great pastors of the twentieth century, Eugene Peterson, retired in 1991 after serving for twenty-nine years as pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. In this interview with David Wood, Peterson offers advice that is especially instructive for Baptist ministers: "I remember early in my ministry listening to colleagues who often seemed irritated and angry with their congregations, as if the congregation was the enemy. I remember making a conscious decision to not adopt that view. The congregation is not the enemy. They are my friends. I am their friend. We are in this together, even when we dont like each other very much."
Johnny Pierce, "A Conversation with John Claypool," Baptists Today 20:3 (March 2002), 22-27.
John Claypool spent most of his life among Southern Baptists, and his preaching and writings have been influential to preachers across denominational lines. In this interview with Baptists Today editor Johnny Pierce, Claypool discusses his contributions in the area of confessional preaching, the persons who influenced him, and the ways in which the pulpit ministry has changed in the past few years. One change that Baptist preachers of today face is the need to connect with a postmodern generation. Claypool states, "I think the need to be personally authentic is much, much greater today than it used to be. There was a time when people kind of looked on the preacher as an authority. He was fullness; they were emptiness. Now I think this younger generation has been so disillusioned by so much that they're very distrustful of authority figures. My sense is that authenticity--the congruence between what you say and what you are--is really much, much more important. That doesn't mean you have to be confessional. It just means that you really better be sure that what you're saying resonates with who you are and what you're doing. Nothing loses people's confidence more than you saying a lot of stuff and then being a different kind of person."
Alice R. Cullinan, "The Role of Schooling in Christian Education as Spiritual Formation," Review and Expositor 98:3 (Summer 2001), 395-410.
Most surveys done in churches reveal that the great majority of church members do not participate in the life of the church, they exhibit little or no obvious spirituality, and they lack basic theological and biblical knowledge. Alice Cullinan, Professor of Religious Education at Gardner-Webb University, identifies some of the key factors that have lead to these overwhelming statistics, and more importantly, she offers insightful guidance that Baptists can use to broaden the scope of religious education and spiritual formation in their churches.
Agnieszka Tennant, "Nuptial Agreements," Christianity Today, 46:3 (March 11, 2002), 58-65.
In "Nuptial Agreements," Agnieszka Tennant reviews two models of marriage which claim to be biblically based and which vie for evangelicals allegiance. One of these models is promoted by the Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) movement, which began in the late 1980s. Proponents of this view speak of biblical equality and mutual submission. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) promotes the other model which advocates the headship of husbands and the submission of wives. Tennants article clearly spells out the differences between these two models but accurately concludes that the tendency of most evangelicals is to adopt and live out an intriguing mixture of the egalitarian and the complementarian models. An understanding of these two biblical models and their implications for Christian living is vital to Baptists as they struggle with the issue of the "proper" place for women in the church, in society, and in the family.
Brad Creed, "Freedom for and Freedom From: Baptists, Religious Liberty, and World War II," Baptist History and Heritage 36:3 (Summer/Fall 2001), 28-43.
Baptists have historically been among the chief advocates of freedom, especially during difficult days of oppression and war. In his article "Freedom for and Freedom From: Baptists, Religious Liberty, and World War II," Brad Creed, Associate Provost and Professor of Religion at Samford University, recounts the views and actions of Baptists during World War II, and he concludes that the Baptists of that era "reaffirmed their historic commitment to religious liberty as the bedrock of democratic freedom and the only sound basis for establishing a just and durable peace at the wars conclusion." Creeds article is instructive for Baptists today who are watching the "War on Terrorism" on the nightly news and are wondering about their own commitment to religious freedom.
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Baptist Bits: Anecdotes from the Baptist archives with relevance for preaching and teaching today, by Dr. Doug Weaver, Chair, Division of Religion and Philosophy and Barney Averitt Professor of Christianity, Brewton-Parker College, Mt. Vernon, GA.
Congregational Autonomy From One of the First Baptists:
Thomas Helwys, founder of the first Baptist Church in England (1612) penned a confession of faith that spoke to the importance of the individual congregation and the autonomy of its members. Every congregation, "though they be but two or three, have CHRIST given them, with all the means of their salvation." Each congregation is a "body of Christ and a whole Church." "And therefore may, and ought, when they are come together, to Pray, Prophecie, break bread, and administer in the holy ordinances, although as yet they have no Officers, or that their Officers should be in Prison, sick or by any other means hindered from the Church." Helwys elaborated clearly upon congregational autonomy: "that as one congregation hath Christ, so hath all. And that the Word of God comes not out from any one, neither to any one congregation in particular. But unto every particular Church as it does unto all the world. And therefore no church ought to challenge any prerogative over any other."
The Kingdom of God: More Than Human but Never Less Than:
The social gospel was a much more potent force among Baptists in the industrialized North than in the South during the early twentieth century. Samuel Zane Batten was a leading advocate for the social gospel through his work in the Social Service Commission. In 1909 he made a report to the annual meeting of Northern Baptists and expressed his understanding of the social commitment of Scripture. "The Kingdom of God, in the Christian conception, may mean much more than a human society on earth, but it is certain it can never mean less . The Christian who cherishes the hope of a Christian and offers the Lords Prayer, expects the coming of a social order where the Beatitudes are always operative, and justice never falters, and truth excludes all lies . Society needs saving as much as the individual, and in the long run the power of Christianity to save individuals will be measured by its power to save society."
Cutting Thick Slices of Compassion
Nannie Helen Burroughs was secretary of the Womens Auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention. In 1905 she spoke to the first Congress of the Baptist World Alliance. Burroughs told of a deacon who insisted upon repeating the Lords Prayer before giving a piece of bread to a beggar. When the beggar saw how small a slice he was about to receive, he said, "Deacon, did you say Our Father? Then that means you are my brother. Then if that is so, will you please cut it thicker since we are kin?" An African-American, Burroughs asked her fellow Baptists to cut thick slices of compassion and love for their brothers and sisters in starving Africa.
Rauschenbusch on Women in the Church: Both Right and Inevitable
Walter Rauschenbusch, known as the father and prophet of the social gospel in America, also peered into the future and spoke to the changing roles of women in society. Writing in 1913, the American Baptist leader saw a social revolution in the making. Subtle change was occurring in Baptist church life: "Women have not occupied our pulpits, but the men in the pulpits were conscious of talking to women who could speak their mind and who did their own thinking. The profoundest changes in theology come by silences. Things are left unsaid because they sound awkward or arouse contradiction." Rauschenbusch concluded with his support for the changes, "Plainly women are here as our equals in religion, in the intellectual life, in industry, and in the life of our commonwealths. When a thing is both right and inevitable we might as well accept it and go ahead."
Tests of Fellowship
In 1903, the Stone Mountain Baptist Association of Georgia experienced conflict over the issue of alien immersion, the practice of accepting immersion from non-Baptist churches. The young growing Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta affirmed alien immersion but other churches wanted to exclude the congregation from the Association. Second Baptist Church of Atlanta, the most influential church in the Association said that they wholeheartedly agreed with the tradition among Georgia Baptist churches not to accept alien immersion. They believed that alien immersion was not consistent with the polity of a biblical church. Second Baptist, however, also affirmed the Baptist emphasis on liberty of conscience in resisting an associational doctrinal test of fellowship on this issue: "we should not impose on sister churches a test of fellowship in the Stone Mountain Association which we do not impose on our own members, and which we do not and cannot insist upon in our relations with the State and Southern Baptist Conventions." Beliefs were important to fellowship, but freedom and toleration were too.
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Q and A: We Ask, You Tell
We ask in one sentence, you tell in four sentences.
Question for May 2002: Should CBF and ABC work toward closer cooperation in their ministries? Email reply to <Thompson_MG@Mercer.edu> by 8 May 2002.
The following are responses to the March question: Out of all the personalities in Baptist History, who is your favorite and why?
Bill Sumners, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives <http://www.sbhla.org >, wrote:
My favorite is a little known Southern Baptist by the name of Joseph Judson Taylor. Taylor, a pastor in Savannah, Georgia, cast the lone vote against the report of the Committee on the World Crisis at the 1917 SBC meeting, because of his opposition to war and because he felt the convention had too much of Caesar and too little of Christ. The next day, he presented five separate peace resolutions, all of which were defeated. He went home to his church and had to resign as pastor. He continued his pacifist crusade in his 1920 book God of War. He is someone we ought not to forget
Hardy Clemons, Retired Pastor, Greenville, SC, wrote:
For me, hands down, among many great candidates, it's Harry Emerson Fosdick. Clyde Fant calls him "The Father of Modern Preaching." In an environment of "thought police," he was one of the first Baptists to invite people to bring their minds into church. Priest and Prophet, Theologian and Preacher, Baptist scholar and Ecumenicist--he was a servant-leader who used his gifts to minister to people rather than build his own pedestalized kingdom. His allegiance was neither to liberalism or conservatism--and he bore scars from both sides to show for that. He fought for liberty, freedom and truth. According to his stated goal, he did make a contribution to the spiritual life of his generation.
Charles E. Magruder, Retired Pastor, Louisiana, Ohio, and Florida and Home Missionary, Western New York, Ohio, and Florida, wrote:
To me ROGER WILLIAMS is foremost among early Baptists as he was the first to proclaim complete religious liberty, when the States were forming in America, allowing the right to choose to have no religious beliefs as well as a particular belief. Though unpopular at the time, as it was picked up and proclaimed by others, it gained the attention of such men as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. Even the historian William Warren Sweet, himself a Methodist, said, "The end of the Revolution found Baptists in a very different position. Their agitation for Separation of Church and State and complete Religious Liberty...was now bearing fruit in the writing of that great principle in all the state constitutions." ROGER WILLIAMS was the initiator of what we still have now as a nation--though in great jeopardy.
Mark A. Wise, Pastor, Welcome Baptist Church, Pendleton, SC, wrote:
I think of all the Baptist personalities in history . . . Clarence Jordan is my all-time favorite. Let's be honest, he was practicing "Planting God's Kingdom" in the 1940s in ways that are still viewed . . . as quite radical: Blacks and whites, living together, sharing all things under the name of "a demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God?" And all this in the heart of the rural South? Where the confederate flag still flies? . . . Come on!
W. Allen Thomason, Chesterfield Baptist Church, Chesterfield SC, wrote:
My favorite person in Baptist History is not a surprise -Lottie Moon. But not just for the inspiring story that we have all learned. I admire her for the things I learned after I went to Seminary. Like her pioneering work in contextualization, her indefatigable spirit, her progressive activism on the part of women in ministry, her spunk and her ain't-gonna-take-no-gruff attitude toward her superior, T.P. Crawford. Unfortunately, not many laypeople get exposed to the Lottie that was such a trail blazer.
Glenn Phillips, Asst. Pastor, So. Patrick Baptist Church, Satellite Beach, FL, wrote:
For me it is Herschel Hobbs. Hobbs represented the best of Southern Baptists. It was through his writings that I understood Baptist beliefs. If only the present leaders of the SBC would follow his leadership pattern. His book, "My Faith My Message" is must reading for anyone serious about the pastorate and the denomination for he led the denomination as a pastor.
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Baptistville: Goings-On Among Baptists
Conferences and Lectures:
The Baptist History and Heritage Society will hold its annual meeting June 20-22, 2002, at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, TN. The theme will be "Baptist Diversity." Contact Charles Deweese for more information <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Fort Worth, TX, June 26-29, 2002.
Nineteenth annual Baptist Women in Ministry meeting, Thursday, June 27, 2002, Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX. Contact Kim Snyder at <email@example.com> .
The Glenn Hinson Spiritual Formation Institute, June 10-15, at Furman University, sponsored by Advent Spirituality Center. Theme: "Baptist Contributions to Christian Spirituality;" Presenters: Dr. Loyd Allen, Professor of Church History and Spirituality at McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University; Dr. Karen Smith, Professor at the University of Cardiff [Wales], Dr. E. Glenn Hinson, retired. For information visit http://main.nc.us/adventspiritualitycenter.
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