"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"

October 2002              Vol.1  No. 10


Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University

Walter B. Shurden, Executive Director and Editor, BSB

Greg Thompson, Associate Director


Table of Contents:

        I Believe . . .: by Walter B. Shurden

                "The Baptist Way"

        The Baptist Soapbox: by Glen Stassen

                "Why I oppose a War Against Iraq"

        The Ecumenical Soapbox: by Ernest T. Campbell

                "Marching As To War"

        A BSB Special: Rollin Armour’s new book on Islam

               A BSB interview concerning Islam, Christianity, and the West: A Troubled History

        Baptist History 101: by Sandy D. Martin

                Martin introduces you to The Progressive National Baptist Convention

        Baptists and Books: by Bill J. Leonard

                    Leonard reviews Kimball’s much discussed When Religion Becomes Evil

        The Baptist Library: Baptist Books: by Rosalie Beck

                    Rosalie Beck reviews two books on Baptists and hymn singing

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

                Durso’s picks include a suggestion that Baptist ministers need ongoing supervision

        Baptist Bits: by W. Loyd Allen

                Preaching and teaching bits on Baptist unity and Baptist quality vs. quantity

        Q and A: by Greg Thompson

                As a Baptist, what is your attitude toward the proposed war on Iraq?

        Baptistville: by Greg Thompson

                Happenings in Baptistville


"The Baptist Way"

by Walter B. Shurden

I Believe . . .

        that Baptists need to think seriously, critically, and in-depth about Islam, especially Islam in American culture today. What we don’t need are knee-jerk responses that either condemn or embrace in an uncritical fashion.

       While this issue of BSB certainly was not planned as a "Baptist/Islam" issue, I am happy to say that you may be able to find some food for thought on that subject in this October issue. Glen Stassen, a leading Baptist ethicist, tells why he opposes the war on Iraq. You will find a new section called "The Ecumenical Soapbox." A widely known Presbyterian preacher is the first to climb onto this stool to speak. His topic is "Marching As To War." Also, you will find an interview with retired Baptist professor Rollin Armour concerning his new book entitled Islam, Christianity, and the West: A Troubled History . You will find a brief review by Bill Leonard of Charles Kimball’s new and highly touted book, When Religion Becomes Evil. To be sure, this book is not about Islam, though many will erroneously presume that Islam is the only thing that Kimball, chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University, has in mind by his title. Leonard also reviews Karen Armstrong’s, Islam: A Short History.

       Though Baptists of today are too far from it to remember, Baptists were once a very despised minority in America. Our seventeenth century Baptist ancestors in America were treated harshly. Banished from their homes, imprisoned for their faith, whipped for being different, John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, John Crandall, Thomas Gould, William Screven, and others can be called from Baptist graves to testify to what it is like to be "different" in a culture that places you under suspicion. What had these early Baptists done? What was their crime? Concerning religious matters, they thought differently. To complicate matters, our forebears often asserted that they were right and others were wrong. But here is the crucial point: Baptists’ muscular affirmations of their own truth claims never kept them from pleading for freedom for others.

       Emerging from seventeenth century English Puritanism with what they thought to be the absolute truth of God, Baptists in America wanted only to be free to place their beliefs alongside the beliefs of others–Christian and non-Christian–who could freely and passionately argue their case in the same free marketplace of ideas. That’s the Baptist Way! A good pattern, don’t you think?


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 I Oppose a War Against Iraq"

by Glen Stassen

Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary


       By a strong margin of two to one the CBS poll shows that Americans want the US to wait for UN action and the inspections process. Inspections can remove the weapons without the killing, and without the world reacting against the US as arrogant, unilateralist, and the destroyer of the fabric of international cooperation that so many have worked so hard to build up since World War II to prevent another major war.

       A settled truth in political science is that people initially support the president in decisive conflicts with a rival nation, either in making war or in making peace. This is simply national loyalty. It has been true of every war in my lifetime, including this one, and including those that turned out wrong. What is news is people want the US to work with the UN and its inspections before starting this war.

       We Baptists are baptized into Jesus Christ, and raised to live in Christ. If we are faithful, we do our ethics under the lordship of Christ. Hence two books that I published seek to identify what it means to take Jesus seriously in such questions. (Both are titled Just Peacemaking; one I wrote, published by Westminster John Knox; the other is the consensus of 23 scholars, by Pilgrim Press.) Jesus commands that if we have anger with our brother, we must go and make peace, and we must take second mile initiatives to make peace.

       World pressure demanded that the president work with the UN and the inspections. So he went to the UN and said he would. That means the US government must take the time to let the inspections work. In the first war against Iraq, the first president Bush started the war in spite of Russia's having persuaded Saddam Hussein to agree, just two days before the war, to get out of Kuwait. That war did not have to happen. It converted Osama bin Laden to terrorism. He hated that the US Army came into Saudi Arabia, the holy land of Mecca, to make war against a fellow Islamic nation.

       Now I fear another rush to war, before the peace process has had a chance to work, and more converts to terrorism. Iraq must be given an incentive to let the inspections work: Tell Iraq that if it allows unrestricted inspections, and ongoing monitoring thereafter, then it can expect peace. If Hussein is told that even after inspections, the US will still try to pull him down and insist on economic sanctions, where is his positive incentive to work with the inspectors? Jesus tells us to include enemies in our community of neighbors. That means we must work with the community of nations to control Iraq, and terrorists. The community of nations is telling the US clearly: first let the inspections work.



The Ecumenical Soapbox: Periodically we are going to invite non-Baptists to climb upon an ecumenical soapbox and give us a piece of their mind about Baptists or current issues that should concern Baptists. In this first installment of the Ecumenical Soapbox, Ernest T. Campbell, former pastor of The Riverside Church in NYC, and, for my money, the best American preacher in the last third of the twentieth century, gives us his Presbyterian mind about the proposed war on Iraq. Campbell’s article "Marching As To War" can be found in the October, 2002 issue of Campbell’s Notebook, one of the best buys in America. You can order it from Campbell’s Notebook, P.O. Box 7, New York, NY 10033 for $15 per year if you live in the U.S. No preacher should be without it, but my wife, who is not a preacher, always tries to beat me to it once a quarter.


"Marching As To War"

by Ernest T. Campbell


       A vegetarian is not the person to go to when you want an opinion on a piece of meat. By logical extension, a pacifist is not the person to go to when you want an opinion about a particular war. I am not a pacifist; that is, I do not hold that all wars are wrong and unnecessary. World War II comes to mind and the American Revolution, as wars that can be morally defended.

       As a "selective pacifist" I feel compelled to say that the hawkish buildup in Washington, D.C. for an invasive action against Saddam Hussein strikes me as madly absurd and morally indefensible. I base this judgment on some of the following considerations:

       1. Who are we to stigmatize Hussein when we consistently (and profitably) lead the world in the sale of armaments abroad year after year?

       2. Why jeopardize any chance for peace between Israel and the Palestinians by exposing the whole region to the ravages of war?

       3. Where are the friends who are usually quick to sign on when we are in trouble?

       4. As an alternative to readying the guns, how much better it would be to ask why we are so widely hated around the globe. We might wish to review our tariffs on steel, our obstinate refusal to recognize Castro’s Cuba, our disproportionate consumption of the planet’s non-renewable resources, the invasion of other cultures with our movies, TV shows and music even though people on the other end find them morally offensive and aesthetically sick.

       5. Is there a record anywhere of a country making a pre-emptive strike against another country on the ground that that country might do it harm some day?

       Granted, the damage done us on 9-11-'01 was a blow to our pride and a hard hit on our material dominance. But calling out the posse is not the way to go. Remember Vietnam. If the thought of going to war is only a political calculation let it go! If there is a case to be made to justify such a war let it be made openly and in plain view of all. It is wrong to cry peace where there is no peace (Jer.5:14). But it is surely just as wrong to cry war before all possible alternatives have been explored!


A BSB Special:


Note: Rollin Armour, a graduate of Baylor University, Southern Seminary, and Harvard Divinity School, is now retired from a long and very influential career as a professor of religion. He taught at Stetson, Auburn, and, most recently, at Mercer. He won the Brewer Prize in church history for his book on the Anabaptist view of baptism. For the last several years, he has vigorously pursued research in the area of Muslim-Christian relations. This research resulted in the publication of  his book in 2002 by Orbis Press. It is a most readable book, published at a most opportune and relevant time. We commend this intriguing book by a superior Baptist scholar to our readers.

BSB: Dr. Armour, you have entitled your book Islam, Christianity, and the West: A Troubled History. Tell us in a few sentences the theme of your book.


Armour: The book describes the history of the West's responses to Islam in two respects: the intellectual responses in written material, and the political-military responses in the open field of history. In the early centuries these opinions and actions came from Christian writers and leaders.

               In later centuries, after the West became more secularized, the responses were more Western than Christian. As the title suggests, the relationship between the West and Islam has been one of conflict.


BSB: Do you say much in the book about Islam itself?


Armour: Yes. I begin with the story of Muhammad, an overview of the teachings and practices of Islam, and a description of early Islamic history. In addition I describe some of the actions of the Islamic world toward the West in the subsequent centuries, including the present.


BSB: Islam is a major topic today in both religion and politics. But when you began your research several years ago that was not true. Tell us how you came to choose this subject for a book.


Armour: My academic area is church history, but all along I have also taught courses in world religions. I guess I chose this specific topic for several reasons.

               First, it has seemed to me that most church historians have neglected the interaction of Christianity with other religions.

               Second, save for Judaism, no religion has had more contact with Christianity than Islam.

               Third, the West has long had a bias against Muslims, particularly Arabs. I believe it was Annemarie Schimmel, an Islamics scholar, who said that Westerners inherit in their genes an antipathy toward Islam. I thought that problem would be worthy of investigation.

               Fourth, even a few years ago, our relation to Muslims was becoming increasingly important, so I thought this would be a good time to undertake the project.


BSB: Did you consider Schimmel correct in her view? Have Westerners been biased toward Islam?


Armour: The answer is yes. The history is embarrassingly replete with distortions, misrepresentations, and power moves from the West that came from a continuing hostility toward the Islamic and Arab world. Only rarely does one see a break in this pattern. The Islamic world has probably not been any better, by the way, but my book focuses on the Western side of the story, not the Islamic.


BSB: How do you account for this bias on the part of the West?


Armour: Perhaps the first answer is that humans generally look askance at "others" and feel superior, tending to see one's own motives as pure, the motives of others as suspect. 

               Then there is the traditional Christian claim of an absolute revelation in the Christian message that leaves everyone outside under condemnation.

               Finally, the two religions formed entire civilizations that have bordered each other and competed over a millennium for land and power. Given those factors, one can expect prejudice and misunderstanding. Muslims have their own reasons for prejudice, of course, since Islam is held to be an improvement on Judaism and Christianity.


BSB: Give us a thumbnail sketch of this history of antipathy.


Armour: The conflict began in the early years of Islam with the Muslim conquest of Christian territory in North Africa, Spain, and Syria-Palestine. Christians responded a few centuries later with the Crusades, recapturing much of Palestine, but then, after about two hundred years, losing it again.

               In the fifteenth century Muslim Turks captured the great Christian city of Constantinople and then moved on up into eastern Europe.

               And in the modern period European colonialism took over almost the entire Islamic world. In this rather see-saw fashion, the two civilizations have struggled against each other for almost fourteen-hundred years. Because Christians wrote about Islam in the midst of these conflicts, their views were often shaped by the conflict.

               Finally, many Muslims interpret the modern state of Israel as a continuing aspect of Western colonialism, in that Israel is something of a Western outpost in the middle of Arab land.


BSB: What have you learned from your research that relates to our present situation?


Armour: Tragically, the relationship has entered a new and violent stage. In the development of Islamic sponsored terrorism, we are seeing the harsh and destructive side of Islam that covers up the responsible and creative side that has characterized much of Islamic history.

               But as I explain in the book, the West in both its Christian and secular forms has its own history of harshness and destruction. We see that in the massacres of Jews in the Middle Ages, a persecution that continued into the last century. In addition, Christians often took harsh measures against Muslims as well. Those people recently engaged in Muslim bashing have forgotten that our own history is full of such violence. In fact, most historians will argue that over the centuries it was better to be a Christian or Jew in Muslim territory than a Muslim or Jew in Christian territory. Neither side, Christian or Muslim, practiced our modern form of religious freedom, but protections for religious minorities were generally better in the Islamic world than in Christendom.

               While we have every reason to protest the current violence, we would do well not to charge Islam with being evil, lest our own past be brought up to haunt us. In fact, that may be the principal lesson in my book.


BSB: Finally, do you have any thoughts about the future and the relationship between the West and the Islamic world?


Armour: One cannot predict the future, but it seems clear that a resolution to this present conflict will require several things. For one, Islamic leaders must find a way to bring the present violence under control, and particularly to end the suicide bombings and the related terrorism. That approach is clearly in  conflict with traditional Islam. But at present, as one commentator recently said, the suicide bombers have in the view of many Muslims gained the high moral ground, and that must be taken away from them. We have yet to see significant efforts toward that end, but that is a major responsibility that Islamic leaders must fulfill.


BSB: How does the Palestinian-Israeli conflict play into all of this?


Armour: That is a second major factor for the future. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict simply must be resolved if we are to find peace. That dispute is at the bottom of most Islamic protests, but a resolution will require a safe future for both sides.


BSB: What other thoughts do you have about the future of this global problem?


Armour: We Christians and Westerners must learn more about Islam, not just the violent side that we see daily, but the underlying religious and moral tradition that characterizes the religion. None of the steps I have suggested will be easy to accomplish, and they certainly will not come quickly, but if responsible leaders can step forward and offer constructive measures for solutions, perhaps ways can be found to bring peace. For now, however, the violent conflict seems likely to continue, and probably to increase. Meanwhile, we can hope that on the other side of these troubles, we may find a time when cooperation may replace the hostility we see today.


Baptist History 101: This column features a different Baptist denomination in America each month. Dr. Sandy Dwayne Martin teaches in the Department of Religion at the University of Georgia, and he is an authority on African American religion in America.


Baptist History 101: The Progressive National Baptist Convention

by Sandy Dwayne Martin


       The Progressive National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated, a major black denomination, ranks third in size within the black Baptist family. It is composed of approximately 1.8 million members in less than 2000 churches, concentrated mainly in the northeast. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the denomination is sub-divided into four main geographical areas. It does not own its own publishing apparatus. The PNBC, with the motto, "Progress, Service, Fellowship, and Peace," is composed of the usual denominational departments and boards: Home Mission, Women, Laymen, Foreign Mission, and Christian Education. It also has entities dealing with Civil Rights and Community Economic Development.

       The PNBC emerged in 1961 from a painful split within its parent body, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBCI). Two major issues occasioned its rise: limited tenure for convention officers and concern for more direct, mass action support for civil rights. The NBCI presidents, since the convention’s 1895 inception, have had long tenures. By the early 1950s strong support appeared for limiting presidential terms. An apparent champion of this cause, Joseph Harrison Jackson, a Mississippi native, pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, and prominent convention figure, reversed his position once taking office in 1953. He ruled that a convention passed amendment was invalid on procedural grounds, a decision upheld by the courts. While electoral attempts were made to dislodge Jackson, strong convention support and political maneuvering by allies protected him.

       This abiding desire to replace Jackson combined with a yearning to involve the convention more actively in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Jackson, a strong supporter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and former supporter of the 1954-55 Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King, Jr., emphasized the use of legal and constitutional challenges, education, and economic development in the civil rights struggles. However, he opposed civil disobedience, sit-ins, and marches.

       In the early 1960s, the "progressives," including the Kings, Jr. and Sr., strongly challenged Jackson by supporting a well-respected Brooklyn pastor, Gardner C. Taylor of the Concord Baptist Church of Christ. But Jackson triumphed in 1961 in Kansas City, Missouri, where a clergyman accidentally fell and died as "progressives" sought to gain physical access to the stage.

       After the meeting L. Venchael Booth, pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and long time advocate of limited tenure, issued a call that resulted in a November 15-16, 1961 assembly. Thirty-three individuals hailing from fourteen states gathered in Booth’s church, laying the foundation for the new denomination that has supported a number of political, economic, and foreign policy matters especially important to black America. Nonetheless, concern continues to exist for greater support for educational institutions, evangelistic outreach, new ministers and establishment of new churches, Christian education, and less trappings of materialism and power in its leadership. Like its black Baptist counterparts, the PNBC takes no official position on women’s ordination, though there are women ministers in the convention. Jackson was ousted from the NBCI presidency in 1982, but no major movement exists for reuniting the PNBC and NBCI.



Booth, William D. A Call to Greatness: The Story of the Founding of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Lawrenceville, VA: Brunswick Publishing Corporation, 2001.


Mamiya, Lawrence H., "Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc." in Stephen D. Glazier, Ed. Encyclopedia of African and African-American Religions. New York: Routledge, 2001.


Payne, Wardell J., Ed. Directory of African American Religious Bodies. Second Edition. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1995.


Baptists and Books, Notes of books on American religion, what they say, don’t say, almost say, and mis-say about Baptists, by Dr. Bill Leonard, Dean of The Divinity School, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.

Charles Kimball, When Religion Becomes Evil (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco), 2002. 240 pp.

       Since 9/11/01 the debate over pluralism and voice in religion has raged unabated in America. Religious leaders from multiple traditions fill the airways with inflammatory rhetoric, forcing Americans again to come to terms with religious liberty, language, and diversity. Charles Kimball, chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University, addresses these concerns and dangers in this new work. Kimball, a specialist in Islamic studies, is no stranger to these questions, having worked as a negotiator in the Iranian hostage crisis over twenty years ago. Before moving to teaching positions at Furman and Wake Forest Universities, he spent extensive time in the Middle East as representative of the National Council of Churches.

       This book surveys a variety of religious traditions and the ways in which conviction can turn to bigotry and religious idealism lead to hate crimes. In his chapters Kimball explores the nature of truth claims, religious authority figures, "ideal time," and holy wars. He concludes with a call for "inclusive faith rooted in a tradition." His study highlights moments when religions carry out actions or support movements later judged as violent, oppressive and in contradiction to the noble truths they espouse. He also notes that "missionary religions" can find themselves in situations whereby "a narrow understanding" of mission imperatives can combine with imperialism and militarism to negate the faith claims of the group. His concern throughout is to affirm the uniqueness of great world faiths while encouraging dialogue, openness and respect for diverse views.

       The book is well written and well documented and should become a valuable resource for individuals, schools, and churches. Kimball writes with insight and fairness. He values the teaching of the religions he critiques; even as he expresses hope that we will all learn to speak "more constructively with each other about ‘us’." These issues will not soon disappear. We need studies like this one to help us navigate our way from violence to communication.


Clyde F. Crews, editor, Hallowed Ground: Louisville’s Historic Cathedral of the Assumption (Louisville: Cathedral of the Assumption, 2002). 131pp.

       Catholicism in Kentucky has a rich and distinguished history and no one tells its stories better than Clyde Crews, professor of religion at Bellarmine College. This new volume surveys the history of the Cathedral of the Assumption, built on Louisville’s Fifth Street in 1852 and recently renovated as a center of faith and learning in the heart of the city. The book contains a variety of essays written by Professor Crews and includes a collection of photographs that trace the life and work surrounding the Cathedral. Amazingly, the church has known only eight bishops/archbishops from Kentucky’s first prelate, Joseph Flaget, to the current Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly O.P. In a sense, the history of the Cathedral of the Assumption is a microcosm of Catholic history in the United States detailing the impact of immigration, anti-Catholic riots, transition in liturgy, education and ministry. The reader is struck by the powerful Catholic presence in Louisville as evidenced in Crews’ description of the celebration of the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in America. Crews describes the celebration at the Cathedral on October 21, 1892, where "Haydn’s Imperial Mass was sung in its entirety. The following day, Sunday, October 22, witnessed one of the largest parades Louisville had ever seen. Over 12,000 marched and 200,000 stood in the streets to see the evening torchlight display. Torchbearers, in fact, marching eight abreast, led off the proceedings. . . ."

       Recent renovations have provided energy for a renewal of ministry through the Cathedral to the entire city. The Cathedral Heritage Foundation has helped to organize Festivals of Faith based in the Cathedral and highlighting faith traditions in the community. For example, Muhammad Ali recently received the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award at a service in the Cathedral. Ali, a native of Louisville, was present for the celebration. While affirming the Cathedral’s deep Catholic identity, leaders have been quick to offer its facilities as a center for dialogue and community life. Pictures provided throughout the book give concrete illustration of its variety of missions and ministries across the last 150 years. The book is a valuable contribution to Catholic and regional studies.


Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (New York: The Modern Library, 2000). 222 pp.

       Karen Armstrong is well known for her important work, A History of God. This brief history of Islam is an excellent introduction for those who are interested in basic information about the world’s second largest religion. In these days when Islam is at the center of world attention it is important to have resources that can offer insight into the nature of the faith. The book follows a chronology that begins with Muhammad and moves into the twentieth century. It was written before 9/11/01 and the American invasion of Afghanistan. Armstrong writes insightfully regarding the development of the Koran and its significant in Islamic faith. She describes the various sects inside Islam and their unique hermeneutical use of sacred texts. Writing in 2000, Armstrong described the difficulties surrounding religion and nationalism in Algeria and wrote prophetically:

The tragic case of Algeria must not become a paradigm for the future. Suppression and coercion had helped to push a disgruntled Muslim minority into a violence that offends every central tenet of Islam. An aggressive secularism had resulted in a religiosity that was a travesty of true faith. The incident further tarnished the notion of democracy, which the West is so anxious to promote, but which, it appeared, had limits, if the democratic process might lead to the establishment of an elected Islamic government. The people of Europe and the United States were shown to be ignorant about the various parties and groups within the Islamic world (183).

       This book is a valuable resource that I readily recommend highly. It is a good place to begin, but only to begin study of Islam and its impact on the world.





The Baptist Library: Notes of books, past and present, by and about Baptists, by Dr. Rosalie Beck, Associate Professor of Religion, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.


Eskew, Harry, David W. Music, Paul A. Richardson. Singing Baptists: Studies in Baptist Hymnody in America. Nashville: Church Street Press, 1994. ISBN 0805498249. 224 pages.

Norton, Kay. Baptist Offspring, Southern Midwife: Jesse Mercer’s Cluster of Spiritual Songs (1810): A Study in American Hymnody. Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2001. ISBN 0899901093. 202 pages.


       Last month I looked at books dealing with the “strident voices” claiming the true Baptist heritage. This month I want to introduce you to a couple of books on a much-neglected part of Baptist history—our music. Harry Eskew has empowered Baptist ministers of music for years. Before retirement, Eskew taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for almost four decades where he helped shape the musical tastes and concerns of Baptists in the deep South. His collaborative effort with David Music and Paul Richardson, Singing Baptists, is a look at the shaped note tradition among Baptists of the South. The sense of community established by Sacred Harp schools and sings is something missing in much of our musical life today. The authors remind us of the participatory nature of music in worship. Baptists have disagreed about singing, who should do it and how it should be done, since the 1600s in England. But these three talented authors remind us of the binding power that music has on the community of faith that practices and sings together, shaped notes and all. In a world driven by absorbing sound-bites of time, Eskew, Richardson and Music make us reflect on a time when people made the effort to gather to learn songs and to learn how to sing praise to the Lord.

      Kay Norton, an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, offers a different look at music in our heritage. Jesse Mercer’s effort to standardize music in churches in the early 1800s, or to help them have some “real” music to sing, is analyzed by this musicologist. Mercer’s work predates the “shaped note” singing that Eskew, Music, and Richardson address, but Norton takes the reader into the world of “pre-shaped note” congregational singing and worship music. She gives the reader a sense of what congregational music was like in the early 1800s, and Norton provides insight into the leadership vision, even in the area of church music, that Mercer provided for the emerging Baptist churches in the South. These two very different approaches to the study of music in Baptist life in the South bring fresh energy to the readers, especially those folks for whom music in the church is important. While Norton’s work shows us how intensely important music has been in Baptist life, from the level of the leaders to the person in the pew, the authors of Singing Baptists remind us of the heart of Baptist music, that we are a singing people.





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.

No Place for a Woman

Mary Jane Welch, "Obedient and Faithful," The Commission 65:5 (July-August 2002): 6-11.

       The most recent edition of the Southern Baptist magazine, The Commission, has these words on the front cover: "No Place for a Woman." (How could anyone pass up a SBC magazine with that title?) Mary Jane Welch recounts the historical work of women in Southern Baptist missions. She contends that in the 157-year history of the International Mission Board women have consistently followed God’s call, and these women have been courageous, useful servants of the gospel who have proven time and again that the mission field is truly a place for women. Three other articles in the magazine tell of women who are currently serving–Amy Johnson, who teaches the Bible to killers and rapists in a Honduran prison, Debby Marshall, who prays with and provides medical care for the people in the war-torn country of Sudan, and an unnamed woman surgeon who is building relationships with people in China with hopes that one day they will trust Christ. A brief interview with a woman administrator at the IMB also appears in the magazine, and she quickly clarifies that "Women can serve in most any role. . . [but] they’re not preaching and pastoring." I wouldn’t tell that to the Honduran gang members who call Amy Johnson Mamita (Little Mom).


A Great "Baptist" Hymn

Vincent A. Lenti, "‘Take My Life and Let It Be’" The Life and Legacy of Frances Ridley Havergal," The Hymn: A Journal of Congregation Singing 53:2 (April 2002): 27-32.

       There is a good chance that every Sunday morning, somewhere in America, a Baptist congregation is singing the hymn, "Take My Life and Let It Be." To whom do Baptists owe thanks for this hymn? A hymnist by the name of Frances Ridley Havergal wrote it in 1874. Vincent Lenti’s article about Havergal tells of her early years as the daughter of a Anglican minister, describes the many tragedies that shaped her, and concludes that while Havergal was not an exceptional poet or hymn writer, her devotion to the Christian faith, her passion for the need of personal conversion, and her commitment to helping others make her story one worth knowing.


Do Baptist Ministers Need Supervision?

Ryan LaMothe, "Rethinking Supervision of Ministry," The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling 56:2 (Summer 2002): 145-156.

       Most seminaries and divinity schools require students to participate in some form of supervised ministry, but Ryan LaMothe argues that supervision is not only for ministers in formation or training. Quality pastoral ministry requires disciplined, ongoing attention to the skills and knowledge needed to provide excellent care, and most ministers recognize and accept that learning and development are "maintained best in a milieu of supportive and empathic evaluation." While LaMothe’s appeal for such supervision to be required and institutionalized will not work within the Baptist context, Baptists should take seriously his call for ministers to find mentors and to involve themselves in ongoing supervision.


Do Baptist Sunday School Teachers Need Supervision?

Dean P. Manternach, "Fostering Reflective Teachers in a Globalized Age," Religious Education 97:3 (Summer 2002): 217- 218

       Dean Manternach, who served for ten years as a catechetical leader in a Catholic parish, recounts the tremendous energy and time he had to give each summer to recruit teachers for the programs of the church. Out of that experience, Manternach came to understand that church leaders, especially religious education leaders, must be mindful of nurturing reflective teachers in an era of globalization. In these quickly changing times, teachers face new questions and issues as they interact with others across the globe. His conclusion is that religious educators must focus on two of the more important aims in teacher formation: (1) strengthening the faith development of each teacher and (2) cultivating their identity and expertise as Christian education teachers. Manternach’s article can help Baptist church leaders explore reflective teaching practices and find intentional and systematic ways for teachers to engage in those reflective practices.


Do Voucher Advocates Need Supervision?

Rob Boston, "The Blaine Game," Church & State 55:8 (September 2002), 4-8.

       Rob Boston asserts that voucher advocates are now preparing to take the fight for school vouchers to another level as they seek to dismantle the Blaine amendments, which are the laws in state constitutions that prohibit the use of public funding for religious schools. Three dozen states have such amendments. Boston traces the history of several of these "Blaine" amendments, and he notes that the Becket Fund with help from Focus on the Family and the Religious Right have attempted to demonize these amendments. Baptists need to gear up for this next fight with supporters of government aid to religious schools.



Baptist Bits: Anecdotes from the Baptist archives with relevance for preaching and teaching today, by Dr. Loyd Allen, Professor of Church History, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA.

Where is unity in Baptist Life?

When the 19th century Baltimore Baptist Association fractured in hot theological debate, mission-minded churches formed the Maryland Baptist Union Association. The new group unified around mission service rather than theological precision. Stephen Hill wrote defending their purpose: "Nor is it our object to associate together for the purpose of discussing matters of faith, or questions of discipline, or anything else that engenders strife of words. Life is too short and time too precious to be frittered away upon subjects merely controversial." Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and too many Baptists "fritter away upon subjects merely controversial" while the world looks for light in the darkness.


Will our baptisms hold water?

The tension between quality and quantity in baptismal candidates is not a novel phenomenon in Baptist life. New Yorker Elder Jacob Knapp was perhaps the first Baptist evangelist to make that vocation his profession. Knapp was nationally known in the nineteenth century. He once boasted of baptizing sixty persons in twenty-eight minutes. His contemporary, Baptist historian William Cathcart described the fruits of Knapp’s invitations as not always genuine, but always abundant.


Is quantity quality?

From small beginnings come great harvests. Unordained John Healey brought six baptized members from England to Baltimore as a church on mission in 1794. Three years later an epidemic of yellow fever left Healey the only surviving male member of the congregation. The church, Second Baptist Church of Baltimore, devised a survival strategy: Healey worked as a silk dyer to finance the door-to-door ministry of the now-anonymous women members. From them came the first Sunday School in America based on the Bible as its text, as well as one of the earliest American Baptist statements advocating a global mission perspective.


Doing God’s service?

Minister Joseph Jones’s conclusions regarding the winning party in a nineteenth century Baptist controversy in Maryland should give all zealots—Baptist and otherwise—pause. Jones wrote: "I believe they acted from conscientious views, thought they were doing God service, as Paul did when putting the Saints to torture and to death, but were not as scrupulous as they should have been in the use of means to attain their end."



Q and A: We Ask, You Tell

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

Question for October 2002:  As a Baptist, what is your attitude toward the proposed war on Iraq?

Email your reply to  <> by 8 October 2002.



Baptistville: Goings-On Among Baptists

Conferences and Lectures:

A Preaching Workshop for Baptist Women and (Men) in Ministry, October 18, 2002, 9:00am - 4:30pm.

Sponsored by The Center for Baptist Studies.

Leaders: Dr. Fred Craddock, Bandy Distinguished Professor of Preaching and New Testament, Emeritus, Candler School of Theology, Emory University and Mary Wrye, Minister to single adults, First Baptist Church, Greenville, SC.

Location: Religious Life Building, Mercer University, Macon, GA.

Registration fee is $50

Make checks to "Mercer University" and mail to:

The Center for Baptist Studies

Mercer University

1400 Coleman Ave.

Macon GA, 31207

Contact Greg Thompson (478) 301-5467 , email or see for more details.


McAfee School of Theology hosts their one-day Annual Bible Conference October 28, 2002 in Atlanta GA. and October 29, 2002 in Macon GA.. Dr. Tony W. Cartledge, President and Editor of The Biblical Recorder will bring the presentation on I and II Samuel. The Conference registration fee is $25 made payable to McAfee School of Theology. For more information, call Diana Frazier at (678) 547-6470 or (888) 471-9922.


CBF of Georgia Fall Convocation will be held November 10-11 at Marietta First Baptist Church, Marietta GA. Tony Campolo will be the guest speaker. Contact  Surelle K. Pinkston by email , Phone 478-301-5926 or Fax 478-301-5927.



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