"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"

May 2002              Vol.1  No. 5


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

                "THE Baptist Church or The Baptist Churches?"

        The Baptist Soapbox: by Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director, DC Convention

                "Why the DC Baptist Convention Rejected NAMB's Proposal"

        Baptists and Books: by Rob Nash

                Rob Nash provides grist for sermons from two books on American religion

        The Baptist Library: Baptist Books: by Jeff Pool

                Jeff Pool reviews significant books on "soul freedom" and baptism

        The Baptist Stacks: Perusing Periodicals for Baptistiana: by Pam Durso

                Pam Durso saves you time by summarizing journal articles for you

        Baptist Bits: by Doug Weaver

                Doug Weaver digs up bits from the Baptist past for the pulpit and lectern

        Q and A: by Greg Thompson

                What do you think are some SPECIFIC areas where CBF and ABC can begin and continue working together?

        Baptistville: by Greg Thompson

                Happenings in Baptistville


"THE Baptist Church or The Baptist Churches?"

by Walter B. Shurden

I Believe . . .

that Baptists are congregationalists. Just in case you missed it or have never quite understood it, let me repeat: BAPTISTS ARE CONGREGATIONALISTS! Congregationalism was not an alien Baptist idea grafted onto the Baptist tree by nineteenth century Landmarkism, as some imply. Baptists in America began in the seventeenth century with a solid, unequivocal, and unapologetic commitment to the independence of each local Baptist church.


But here is another truth, sadly documented by Baptist history: the more hardwired and centralized the denominational life of Baptists becomes, the less congregational and autonomous are their local churches. The closer Baptists edge toward the precipice of THE Baptist Church, the further they get from their congregational church polity. Hold those two ideas--congregational Baptist churches and hardwired Baptist conventions--together for a just a minute.


Baptists are not Catholics. Baptists do not have one person, a bishop, around whom all the churches are unified into the One Church. Baptists are not Presbyterian where one group of people, representing a larger group, is crucial to connecting all the local churches into The Presbyterian Church. And Baptists should not become "Presbygationalists," combining a bit of Presbyterian church government and a dab of congregational church government so that you have an authoritative hard-wired denomination composed of associations, regional conventions, and national conferences or conventions. Baptists are congregationalists! The seat of "church power" is in the hands of a local congregation, not units of denominational life beyond the local church.


One evidence that Baptists are congregationalists is the fact that Baptists have no consistent, uniform or constituted theology of church order beyond the local church. Baptists have no ONE way, no RIGHT way, to do denominational life. If you look at Baptists in America or around the world and analyze how they have structured their life together beyond the local church, you will find an amazing amount of diversity.


This absence of a theology of church order beyond the local church never meant that Baptists were void of a concept of the universal church. Baptists, from their earliest days, possessed a concept of the church that was bigger than the local churches. What they did not have, however, was an ecclesiology beyond the local church that told them HOW to ORGANIZE and STRUCTURE their separate congregational churches into a Baptist denomination.


Baptist congregations, even so-called independent and fundamentalist Baptist churches, usually have tried to work together in some form or fashion. Baptist congregationalism never meant that Baptist ecclesiology was characterized by a Lone Ranger policy of isolationism, at least not for the most part. What Baptist congregationalism did mean, however, was that Baptists lacked a single or consistent pattern of corporate or denominational life beyond the local church.


Read Baptist history carefully and you will observe that, when Baptist denominational life is fragmented and diverse and characterized by a lack of cooperation between the independent churches, some Baptists get an acute attack of theological and organizational anxiety. They begin to send out a call for a concept of Baptist church order that stresses the "interdependence" of the churches, often at the expense of the "independence" of the local churches.


A call for togetherness has genuine merit, both theological and organizational. But if we are not careful, that call for interdependence can blossom into a bureaucratic denominationalism, and THE Baptist Church replaces the Baptist churches in a very brief time. When that happens, you get one union or convention of churches (THE Baptist Church) mandating to other Baptist unions (state conventions, district associations, etc.), and indirectly to individual Baptist churches, such actions as who can be ordained, how funds must be spent, and what "creed" must be assented to. Something of that very thing has happened in the relationship of the Southern Baptist Convention to the District of Columbia Baptist Convention. It is a very dangerous thing. The denominational craving for theological order and denominational efficiency ends up subtly cutting the very soul out of Baptist congregational church polity and the autonomy of other conventions and associations. This is not something, incidentally, that began with the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC. It was present in both the SBC and in other Baptist groups prior to 1979.


Baptists are congregationalists! Vigilance is required to protect the Baptist churches from THE Baptist Church. Let's all stay awake.



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).

"Why the DC Baptist Convention Rejected NAMB's Proposal"

by Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director, DC Baptist Convention

On March 11, 2002, nearly 200 persons gathered from the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) churches to respond to a far-reaching proposal from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The proposal sought invasive changes in DCBC life as pre-conditions for a continued partnership between the two Baptist entities. Moreover, the proposal by NAMB would have radically undermined the historical partnership among Southern and American Baptists that has existed since 1877 in the Nation's capital, which expanded in recent years to include Progressive National Baptists.

NAMB proposed to divorce NAMB funding and personnel from DCBC's unified mission program presently under the supervision of the Executive Director or officers of the DCBC. A NAMB "strategist," funded by and accountable only to NAMB, would replace the duly elected officers of the DCBC in terms of supervision of DCBC programs. Under other conditions of NAMB's unprecedented proposal, DCBC would refrain from interfaith collaboration and witness, refrain from publishing criticisms of SBC leadership or agencies in its newsletter, and require speakers at its meetings to subscribe to those theological tenets outlined in the Southern Baptist Peace Committee's report. NAMB underscored its conditions by requesting a twelve-month probationary period during which it would conduct quarterly reviews. Failure on DCBC's part to comply could lead to a withdrawal of financial support from NAMB, according to statements by NAMB's official representative.

By an overwhelming majority, the DCBC Executive Board declined NAMB's proposal. Faithful Baptists of all persuasions were not surprised by DCBC's action in this regard. In our statement, DC Baptists affirmed our long-standing partnership (since 1845) with the SBC. We defended the autonomy of the local church and our state convention. We defended the Holy Bible as fully sufficient authority for declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We defended our integrity against unsubstantiated aspersions and innuendoes regarding our Christian character and witness.

Moreover, we call upon Baptists to exalt God's mission above madness, and to pursue the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the planting and cultivation of New Testament congregations, and the conduct of Christian ministry to all people. Finally, we rededicate ourselves to the promotion of harmony of feeling and concert of action on the part of all Baptists throughout the world with the caveat that, no man or denominational agency should seek to put asunder what God has joined together--in the case of DCBC--Southern, American, and Progressive Baptists together on mission for Jesus Christ!



Baptists and Books, Notes of books on American religion, what they say, don’t 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.

David G. Myers. The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 400 pp.

       Well-known social psychologist David G. Myers has penned this examination of social ills in America at the end of the twentieth century. He is of the opinion that materialism and radical individualism have ripped the spiritual heart out of us. I doubt many Baptists would disagree. We're aware that our incomes have doubled even as we've become less happy, more depressed, less committed to marriage, and more violent. Myers helps us to see the big picture and to identify some ways in which to create a better, healthier, and more moral world. The book is divided into ten chapters that focus upon the full gamut of social issues: sexuality, marriage, children, violence, money, individualism, and the media. It ought to give preachers some good sermon material and the rest of us some serious issues to ponder.

       Let me share one instance in the book that can serve as an example of Myer's approach. In his chapter on the media, he identifies some ways in which we have become desensitized to sexuality. Sexual violence against women has increased as the media makes such violence seem commonplace. Women have been increasingly objectified in movies and television. Social scripting has occurred as we've started to behave like the movie stars that we idolize. He calls for a return to faith as a way of solving the problem. He says that "moral action strengthens conscience" and that "doing favors for another person often leads us to like that person more."

       Baptists should read the book not so much to find the answers to the problem as to discover the depth of the problem. The book is chock-full of evidence that we're in way over our heads and need a spiritual answer to get us back on track. My hunch is that we know what the answer is--we're just not quite sure how to connect our own living out of the way of Jesus to the problems around us. Maybe it will help if we can just see the problems more clearly.


Roger Housden. Sacred America: The Emerging Spirit of the People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999. 262 pp.

       Europeans have been analyzing the American religious spirit for a long time. The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville set out across the nation in the 1830s to discover what made us great. Roger Housden, an Englishman, has made a similar journey in recent years and has chronicled his findings in this warmly-written and engaging exploration of American spirituality. What he discovered is that Americans are able to weave their own sense of the sacred into their ordinary experience and to reinvent religion in ways that are quite American. Like many Europeans, Housden is surprised by the spiritual ethos that pervades the nation in Native American religions, Judaism, Islam, Christian Fundamentalism and Catholic monasticism. He personalizes all of these traditions by visiting our sacred spaces and chatting with us about our spiritual motivations and how these motivations connect to our Americanness. He talks with Tom Yellow Tail, grandson of a Crow medicine man, and to Jim Wallis of the Sojourner's Organization. He wanders out to California to see the "feminine spirit in action" and to Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky to chat with Thomas Merton's secretary.

       At times the book seems pervaded with mysticism. At points it analyzes. At other moments it is devotional. Always it is compelling as it paints a picture of what it is like to be religious in America. Housden concludes that "Sacred America . . . is that increasing communion of souls who are living their lives, not by some external dictate of creed or culture, but by the prompting of the knowing, intelligent heart." He adds that this way of life pervades the nation and is in abundance.

       Baptists should read it for the very real picture that it offers of a people who are often quite at home with God or Spirit or whatever it is that we Americans choose to call our ultimate reality. Perhaps we're not as godless as we're sometimes charged with being. And perhaps that's a very good thing.




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.

"Soul Freedom": Root of all Baptist Distinctives

Cothen, Grady C. and Dunn, James M. Soul Freedom: Baptist Battle Cry. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys Publishing, Inc., 2000. Pp. xii + 129. ISBN 1-57312-335-8.

       The two authors of this book, Grady C. Cothen and James M. Dunn, represent the spirit of Baptist life that the current leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have grieved and quenched within, as well as exiled from, the Convention's present community. The authors have invested the larger parts of their ministries both in service to various prominent agencies or institutions of the SBC and in continuing to serve as voices of the grieved, quenched, and exiled Baptist spirit in the present wilderness. They write wisely, authoritatively, and eruditely, both from intensive study and extensive experience, regarding God's gift of freedom to all persons as the "taproot" of all distinctively Baptist convictions about Christian life, community, faith, and practice.

       In fourteen chapters, alternating between the two authors throughout the book, Dunn and Cothen articulate, in popular and sermonic style, the traditional Baptist affirmations about human freedom, biblical and divine authority, evangelism, separation of church from state, academic freedom in theological education, as well as the Baptist aversion to creeds and credalism, that the contemporary SBC both misrepresents and has endeavored to obscure. They illustrate their short expositions with numerous examples from the SBC's recent history of violations of these fundamental affirmations and convictions. Cothen and Dunn confessionally conclude this book with their reasons for being and remaining Baptist. Both Baptists who remain within the SBC and Baptists who have accompanied the traditional Baptist spirit into exile should read this book: the first group, to refresh their memories; the second group, to renew their hopes.


Contemporary English Baptist Thoughts On Baptism

Fiddes, Paul S., Editor. Reflections on the Water: Understanding God and the World through the Baptism of Believers. Vol. 4. Regent's Study Guides. Edited by Paul S. Fiddes. Macon, Georgia: Smyth and Helwys Publishing, Inc., 1996. viii + 143 pp. ISBN 1-57312-052-9.

       With one exception, English Baptists contributed all of the chapters in this book. Not merely a loose collection of essays on the general theme of baptism, the book originated with the clearly focused theme of its subtitle, with all of the essays benefiting from discussions among the contributors over a period of six years. Thus, the chapters have essential and theo-logical relationships to one another, although the authors do not agree on everything. Of course, many familiar Baptist issues about baptism emerge in these chapters, although the book carries neither polemical tone nor intention.

       The authors explore baptism as a practice that not only expresses a theology, but involves the baptizand in God's life and the natural world in diverse ways. In this vein, the authors explore baptism as confession, as a mark of Christian identity, as drama, as conflict with the powers, as participation in the life of God and nature, as sign and ritual, and even as sacrament. Christopher Rowland, an Anglican priest and professor at the Oxford University, wrote the concluding chapter as a response to these Baptist thoughts about baptism. The Anglican response to the Baptist chapters takes the form of a critical but sympathetic dialogical reading. Paul Fiddes again appears as one of the leading contemporary Baptist theologians, as he provides with this book a unique theological approach to, and significant insights about, a practice that Baptists regularly perform, and most often merely assume that they understand adequately. Baptists of every kind should read this book as a creative catalyst to inspire their own reflection upon that central practice or experience for which some Christian communities originally received the name "Baptist."



The Baptist Stacks: Perusing Periodicals for Baptistiana: Notes of journal articles: what they say, don’t 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.

Preserving the History of Baptists

Charles W. Deweese, "Baptist History Refuses to be Suppressed," National Mainstream 2:2 (March-April 2002), 12-13.

       For Baptists concerned about the preservation of their history, this brief article written by Charles Deweese, Executive Director-Treasure of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, offers hope and encouragement. Deweese provides a superb list of organizations, programs, and persons who are committed to telling the Baptist story accurately. He supplies information about the new Centers for Baptist Heritage, lists Web Sites which are devoted to Baptist history, and offers information about new Baptist programs, societies, and publications. This article is an excellent resource for Baptist ministers, local Baptist church historical committees, and Baptist laypersons.


Preserving the History of Baptists on the State Level

Daniel W. Stowell, "The State of State Baptist Histories," Baptist History and Heritage 37:1 (Winter 2002), 97-111.

       In the last five years four historians have worked diligently to preserve the history of Baptist work in their respective states (Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee). Daniel Stowell, Director and Editor of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, provides a review of each of the books and comments on the common trends that are present in these histories. Finally, Stowell offers excellent advice to persons interested in writing the history of Baptist work in their state, but his advice is also very relevant for persons wanting to write the history of their local church.


Preserving Baptist History by Taking a New Look at Early Baptists

Philip E. Thompson, "A New Question in Baptist History: Seeking a Catholic Spirit Among Early Baptists," Pro Ecclesia 8:1 (Winter 1999), 51-72

       The task of preserving Baptist history must include an analysis of Baptist thought and the changes it has undergone in the past four hundred years. In this article, Philip Thompson, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Heritage at North American Baptist Seminary in South Dakota, provides such an analysis. He contends that the earliest Baptists had more of a catholic mind and spirit, and he concludes that there has been a shift in Baptist thought from an understanding and appreciation of the tradition of the catholic church to an underdeveloped catholic mind and an isolation from the church's greater heritage. This shift, according to Thompson, is due to the influence of Landmarkism and to the emphasis on soul competency. Whether you agree with Thompson's conclusions or not, the article sheds light on the need to take a fresh look at the teachings of those earliest Baptists.


Being a Baptist Neighbor to a Muslim

George W. Braswell, Jr ., "Four Faces of Islam: Before and After 9-11," Baptists Today, 20:4 (April 2002), 24-27.

       The terrorist attacks on September 11th have had a profound influence on how Baptists think about and talk about the Islamic faith. How can we as Baptists sort out what Muslims believe and what should be our response to the claims being made about this religion? From his own experience with Islam and with Muslim people, George W. Braswell, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Missions and World Religions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers insight into the many faces worn by Muslims. Those faces are: Face One: Aggressive Expansion -- many around the world affirm Islam as a peaceful religion, and so it is. Yet one of the faces of Islam is that of warfare. Face Two: Questions of Religious Freedom -- some people plead the case that Islam is a religion of freedom, but the history of Islam is replete with religious intolerance and grave penalties for apostasy. Face Three: Orthodoxy and Folk Religion -- great publicity is given to the orthodoxy of Islam, yet tens of millions of Muslims combine their orthodoxy with folk practices in which they seek folk heroes and saints to answer their prayers. Face Four: Affirmations and Denials of Jesus -- people say the essential teachings of Christianity and Islam are the same and that the differences between the two religions are small, but there are some wide divergences, especially in the Islamic understanding of the nature and purpose of Jesus Christ and the idea of salvation. While we as Baptists hope to be good neighbors to the Muslim community, Braswell challenges us to move beyond the media's representation and the Islamic leadership's presentation of who Muslims are and to understand the complexities of the Muslim faith.


Professional Versus Bi-Vocational

Garrett Keizer, "Two Cheers for Professional Clergy: Career Ministry," The Christian Century 119:9 (April 24-May 1, 2002), 30-33.

       What has the church gained as a result of having professionally trained and highly educated clergymen and women? What has the church lost by not utilizing the gifts of working men and women as leaders? In this article, Garrett Keizer, a high school English teacher and pastor of a small parish in Vermont that cannot afford a "regular clergy," debates the pros and cons of hiring a "professional" clergyperson versus calling a bi-vocational minister. Out of his own experience, Keizer states that one of the most exciting things about having a bi-vocational minister is that this model of ministry "holds out the promise of recasting the church as a disciplined cadre of committed disciples in which everyone exercises a full baptismal ministry, everyone pulls his or her weight." As Baptists move further toward establishing professional ministers in as many churches as possible, Keizer's article reminds us of the benefits of congregations not "paying someone to be a professional Christian on their behalf."



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.

Standing Tall

In his book, The Stem of Jesse, Will Campbell, tells the story of Sam Oni of Nigeria, the first black student to attend Mercer University. Oni was assigned Don Baxter, a 6'7" basketball player, as his roommate. The church that Baxter had attended the previous year notified him that Oni was not welcome there for worship. Undeterred, Baxter and Oni visited another Baptist church and both joined several other students in requesting church membership. Baxter and the other white students were received without question but a 2-1 majority approved Oni only after extensive discussion. On the trip back to campus, Baxter broke an awkward silence by asking Oni, "Why did it take them so much longer to vote you in than for me?" Oni responded, "Maybe because you're taller than I."


The Authority of the Bible

American Baptists had a series of theological conferences in the 1950s. In 1954, Walter Harrelson, Old Testament scholar from Vanderbilt University, summarized the conclusions of the sessions. On the authority of the Bible, he wrote, "since the deeds are prior to the record of them, the authority which the Bible has is seen to rest in its making these deeds our own possession. The authority of the Bible thus rests on more than the words alone. The words must be given life. Moreover these words live most fully within the fellowship of believers, where the Holy Spirit gives power and direction to the Church and to its individual members. In addition the Bible has a personal center--God's own Son given for our redemption. He is both the focus of the story and the central fact which makes the Bible authoritative. Thus we are required to judge the Bible on the basis of its presentation of the Christ to us, and yet we do not know the Christ apart from the Bible."


Inerrancy…How many qualifications?

W. T. Conner, systematic theologian at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for 39 years (1910-1949), emphasized the importance of biblical authority. He did not, however, think biblical inerrancy was a necessary ingredient. In a letter to an advocate of inerrancy, Conner wrote, "I don't think it is best to make the religious value of the Bible depend on an unproveable theory." "If a man takes a position that the Bible is inerrant in all respects," Conner added in another letter, "by the time he gets through answering the questions that will arise, he may find that the question becomes meaningless."


The Fundamentalist Mindset

In his 1987 history of Baptists, The Baptist Heritage, historian Leon McBeth defined Fundamentalism: "Fundamentalism involves a mindset as well as a set of beliefs; it includes attitudes as much as beliefs; it is perhaps as much a psychology as a theology. The Fundamentalist tends to see issues in terms of black and white, either absolutely right or completely wrong. The Fundamentalist must be absolutely certain even in areas where human certainty is suspect. The seeking for extreme certainty may in fact mask a deeper level of doubt."


Fellowship cannot be Coerced

J. C. Massee was a conservative Northern Baptist who saw the dangers of coercive conformity in fundamentalism. In the 1940s, he reflected on the push for a creed in Northern Baptist churches during the Fundamentalist conflict of the 1920s. Understanding the voluntary nature of faith, Massee stated, "fellowship cannot be coerced… No human being has either the right or the power to select a vocabulary in which my faith is to be expressed."



Q and A: We Ask, You Tell

We ask in one sentence, you tell in four sentences.

Question for June 2002:  What do you think are some SPECIFIC areas where CBF and ABC can begin and continue working together?

 <> by 8 June 2002.

Here is what a few of you wrote concerning the April question: "Should CBF and ABC work toward closer cooperation in their ministries"?


Ron McCaskill, pastor, First Baptist Church, Cairo, GA responds:

"Thank you for you leadership in pointing us in this direction. If we could unite, we would both be stronger. Hopefully, we will be together quicker than my prediction [fifty years]. "


Graham Walker, a CBFer and professor of theology at McAfee School of
Theology wrote:

The fact is, we need each other. They (ABC) have BWA identity, we (CBF) don't. They are heavily endowed, we aren't. We have a more active contributing base, they don't. We have complementary missions philosophies which make for a wholistic perspective. They have an annuity board, we don't! They have a pilgrimage (retreat center), we don't. They have impunity! They are not a "shadow denomination" as the BP puts it. If we "return home" we open the door for churches in the south to "return to our roots" as opposed to be the renegade splinter of the SBC. I would be honored to work as a brick-layer in this arrangement. I've worked with their mission agency for 15 years and know their people well.


George W. Hawkins, member of Blacksburg, VA, Baptist Church said:

"By all means the CBF and the ABC should do all they can to coordinate and combine their efforts. I believe it will be a tragic loss of opportunity to develop a much greater, more effective and more efficient program if they do not."


Ron Freyer Nicholas of Saginaw, MI wrote:

"I learned to "be Baptist" growing up as a Virginia Southern Baptist. I've spent all (so far) of my adult life as an American Baptist and, for the past almost-20 years as an ABC pastor to congregations from New England to California. I rejoiced when CBF and The Alliance of Baptists both discovered ways to work cooperatively with our ABC sisters and brothers and was further pleased when the church I last pastored and the church I now pastor both included the CBF in their missions giving, identifying themselves as CBF-friendly ABC churches.

When I've attended (ABC/CBF/Alliance) cooperatively-sponsored theological conferences, such as those at Green Lake American Baptist Assembly in Wisconsin, and have watched multiple-aligned congregations struggle to assert their true identity as cooperating Baptists (with the DC Convention as one example), I have hope. When the faculties of the established ABC theological schools and the new schools in the South began and continue to "cross-fertilize," I have hope. When the DC Convention stands up to the intimidation and attempted blackmail by the present SBC (which, I believe, should rename itself the "Southern Reformed Evangelical Convention" to maintain "truth in labelling"), I have hope. When I as a "Baptist liturgiologist" and my wife, an ordained "Baptist Spiritual Director" and senior pastor, can be welcomed in Baptist circles South and North, I have hope.

For years I've mourned that I could not "go home" because the SBC I grew up in no longer exists. Though there is still an organization with those initials that calls itself "Baptist" I could no longer find much identifiably Baptist within its doctrine, polity, and practice. Perhaps, some day, when my ordained wife and I hear God's call to minister in another place, I pray that it might be with a congregation, theological school, or ministry that has bridged the CBF/Alliance/ABC "identity-gap" and is also "below the Mason-Dixon Line." We've prayed for years, and continue to pray as did our Lord, `That they (we) all may be one'."


Jeff Wilkinson, an ABC pastor said:

"Writing as an ABC pastor in New York State, I think we should seek out common ground and explore the possibility of coming together. I believe that it would strengthen a true Baptist stance in our society and help to offset the negative Baptist portrayal that SBC offers."


Ircel Harrison, CBF Coordinator for Tennessee wrote:

The Baptist Studies Journal for April is excellent. I appreciate the emphasis on American Baptists. Why didn't those of us who are "moderate" Baptists in the South move toward ABC? Simplest answer is PRIDE. We really thought (and many still do think) that no one can do it better than we can. We need a lesson in humility.


Charles J. Scalise, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary wrote:

"Perhaps more revealing questions might be: `What are the reasons that are preventing CBF and ABC from working together in their ministries? Are any of these reasons worthy of the gospel'?"


Angel Vazquez, M.D., member of First Baptist Church, Macon, GA said:

"I thoroughly enjoyed your article in this month's bulletin. I am 100% in agreement with you. As you know I am an American Baptist. What you may not know is that my maternal grandparents were charter members of the First Baptist Church, Cidra, Puerto Rico. That church will celebrate the centennial this year. As I grew up in that church, I learned all the time honored tenets of the traditional Baptists. One aspect of Baptist life that I was taught is ecumenism, and I still feel very strong about it. . . . I wish we could "come home" too. You keep pushing for it. It will be a great day when CBF and ABC can merge into one group of likeminded Baptist without any worries about power or turf protection."



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 <>.

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 <> .

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