"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"

January 2003              Vol. 2  No. 1


Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University

Walter B. Shurden, Executive Director and Editor, Baptist Studies Bulletin

Greg Thompson, Associate Director, The Center for Baptist Studies

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Robert Richardson, Coordinator, Mercer Certificate Program in Baptist Studies


Table of Contents:

        I Believe . . .: by Walter B. Shurden

                "An Online Opportunity in Baptist Studies "

        The Baptist Soapbox: by John R. Tyler

               "What One Layman Hopes for Baptists in 2003"

        Baptist Spirituality in America: by E. Glenn Hinson

              Bunyanesque Spirituality

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

              Articles about Campolo and Billy Graham

        Baptist Women in America: by Carolyn DeArmond Blevins

               Do You Know These Baptist Women?

        Baptist Books: by Glenn Jonas

              A Very Important New Book on Baptists for Beginners

        Baptist Firsts: by Charles Deweese

             "The First Baptist Church in America"

        Baptist Classics in America : by Walter B. Shurden

              Is This Our First Truly Baptist Classic in America?

        Letters to the Editor:  by Greg Thompson

              Send in your responses by email

        Baptistville: by Greg Thompson

              Happenings in Baptistville

"An Online Opportunity in Baptist Studies"

by Walter B. Shurden

I Believe . . .

          that some of our readers will be very interested in a new venture sponsored by The Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University. We are launching an on-line educational program called “The Mercer Certificate in Baptist Studies.” Designed to meet the needs of both laity and clergy, it is an effort to both clarify and extend the Baptist vision of Christianity.

           Why such a program? It is not because we think Baptists are the best ones God has. We are genuinely ecumenical Baptists at the Center for Baptist Studies. Rather it is

           . . . because many Baptists have a very bad case of denominational amnesia. We have forgotten what the Baptist family has stood for.

           . . . because of the loss of educational programs in local churches that taught the Baptist heritage.

           . . . because the so-called “era of postdenominationalism” has duped some into thinking that salient denominational convictions are unimportant. Some are even dropping the denominational label in the name of an artificial ecumenism and a shallow evangelism. To see how wrong this is go to the Hartford Seminary site and read the challenging report called “Denominational Identity and Church Vitality” by Scott Thumma (click here to read or go to  <>). One of my very good Baptist pastor friends confessed to me recently that several years ago he had placed all of his “Baptist” books in a closet behind closed doors. Because of what he called “an epiphany,” he has come to see that core Baptist convictions really matter. The result? He is rearranging his books again, coming out of the closet with his denominational convictions. Cheers to and for a thoroughly ecumenical pastor who has rediscovered his Baptist roots.

           . . . because our nation today needs the Baptist witness on religious liberty and separation of church and state more than it has needed that witness in the last two hundred years.

           There are many more reasons why the on-line “Mercer Certificate in Baptist Studies” is needed, but these offer motivation enough. Dr. Robert Richardson and Mr. Greg Thompson will spearhead this program. Each is a graduate of Southern Seminary in years gone by. If you want to view the new “The Mercer Certificate in Baptist Studies” program, go to < >. We would be happy to have you as one of our first on-line students. You should know, however, that the enrollment of the first class will be limited to twenty-five students.

           While I am talking about “new” things, I would like for you to take note of some changes in the BSB as we begin 2003, our second year of publication. We will have some new writers and new subjects for the next six months. Professor Glenn Hinson is more qualified than anyone to write on “Baptist Spirituality in America.” The same is true for Professor Carolyn Blevins and “Baptist Women in America.” Charles Deweese, the talented executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, will do an article each month on “Baptist Firsts.” Glenn Jonas, a rising star in Baptist Studies, will write the old section on “Baptist Books.” Pam Durso and I are holdovers from last year. She will continue to do her superb work in combing the periodicals for helpful articles on Baptists, and I will begin a series on “Baptist Classics in America.”

            Other names posted recently on our masthead above are Dr. Wil Platt and Dr. Robert Richardson. Dr. Platt, a M.Div. from Southern Seminary and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Georgia, will serve as Associate Editor of BSB, a task at which he has been working this past year but without due recognition. Dr. Richardson, also a graduate of Southern and UGA and a former chair of Mercer’s Education Department, will, as I said above, coordinate the certificate program. We are delighted to have these two superbly qualified people on the Center’s team. And we are delighted to have you as a reader. Stay tuned.    


Important Announcement !!!

Upcoming conference:

Conflict in the Church: Doing Ministry in Tough Times

Click here for more details




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). John Tyler is a very active layperson in Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO. He is also a former moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.


“What One Layman Hopes for Baptists in 2003”

By John R. Tyler


       I have three hopes for Baptists in 2003.

       I hope we will rebound from the recent battles in Baptist life. Too many Baptists in the South continue to fight a battle that is over. Like General  George Patton, we love the battle, so we pretend that we are fighting to reform or reclaim SBC institutions, that we are fighting to maintain Baptist principles. But we know better. We are tilting at windmills. SBC institutions cannot be reformed or reclaimed, and the SBC has jettisoned Baptist principles. Fighting fundamentalism keeps combatants embroiled in it. We simply need to leave Egypt for the destination that offers a new, faithful, and free way to be Baptist. We know what to do. I hope we’ll do it.

       I hope we will remove barriers that exclude people from Baptist life. Many Christians from other denominations are coming to Baptist churches. They are believers who bear the fruits of the spirit, yet we erect rebaptism as a barrier to their ministry with us. This is a misuse of baptism. Baptists will always baptize new converts by immersion. Quoting John Bunyan, who spoke of this long ago, “All I say is, that the Church of Christ hath not warrant to keep out of their communion the Christian that is discovered to be a visible saint by the word, the Christian that walketh according to his light with God.”

       I hope we will resolve to listen to people of other religions. Listening to people does not mean that we agree with them on every topic. Listening to people does not mean that we endorse their beliefs. Listening to people is far more than hearing them; it is seeking with an open heart and mind to understand them and their views—to understand the forces that caused them to reach those views and to be who they are. We cannot live in peace with people of other religions if we condemn them with the harsh rhetoric that has spewed recently from the mouths of some Christians. And we can never introduce them to Jesus Christ if we ignore them, condemn them, and demonstrate an utter distaste for them as human beings. The life of Jesus recorded in the Gospels shows us what to do. I hope we will have larger ears and smaller mouths in 2003.

Editor’s Note:  Smyth & Helwys will publish in March 2003 John Tyler’s book titled Baptism– We’ve Got It Right . . . and Wrong: What Baptists Must Keep, What We Must Change, and Why. An elaboration of his second point above, Tyler’s book deserves careful study by the leadership in Baptist churches throughout the land.




Baptist Spirituality in America: a column on the distinctive spiritual emphases of Baptists in America by E. Glenn Hinson, Professor Emeritus of Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Senior Professor of Church History and Spirituality at Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Visiting Professor of Church History at Lexington Theological Seminary, and Adjunct Professor of Church History at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.

 Baptist Spirituality in America: Bunyanesque

            A striking feature of Baptist spirituality in America in its early days is the impact of John (not Paul) Bunyan.  That should surprise no Baptist knowledgeable about Baptist history, for The Pilgrim’s Progress quickly became one of the most widely read, cherished classics from its creation around 1678 on.  In it you will find the features which characterized the spirituality of Bunyan and the first Baptists in America.  (1) It was biblical.  In Grace Abounding Bunyan avowed that he was “never out of the Bible” and in The Pilgrim’s Progress, when Christian left the “scroll” behind after sleeping on it, he had to return and retrieve it.  You can’t get to the heavenly City without guidance of scriptures.  (2) It was contemplative.  Bunyan may not have known it, but his “poring over” the scriptures came very close to the lectio divina of Benedictine monks.  For both Bunyan and Benedictines the “spiritual reading” should move from study (lectio) to meditation to prayer (oratio) and finally to encounter with God (contemplation).  (3) It had to be voluntary to be authentic.  Bunyan spent twelve and a half years in prison because he refused to stop unlicensed preaching and to accept the religious usages prescribed by The Book of Common Prayer.  Set prayers, he insisted, are only “a little lip labour and bodily exercise.”  (4) It was communal.  However far Bunyan and Baptists in America pressed for freedom of the individual conscience, they also cherished community.  Bunyan labeled the little congregation at Bedford of which he later became pastor “Interpreter’s house,” where, in his battle with depression, he had “seen things rare and profitable, things to make me stable.”  (5) Its concern was heart religion manifested in transformed lives in which deeds matched words.


Mini-Sabbatical !!!

Are you a Baptist Minister interested in a week-long sabbatical of supervised

reading in Baptist Studies? Click here for more detail.




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.

Two Baptists Make Front Covers

Ted Olsen, “The Positive Prophet,” Christianity Today 47:1 (January 2003): 32-42.

       Tony Campolo has been given many labels–and not all of those labels have been flattering–but perhaps the most appropriate label for this man is prophet.  Yet the label of prophet is not one with which Campolo is comfortable.  Ted Olsen, however, uses the label in the title of his article about Campolo in Christianity Today.  Olsen’s article hits the high spots in the life of this American Baptist professor, sociologist, evangelist, and social critic, but Olsen also tells a few lesser-known stories including Campolo’s run for Congress in 1976 and his heresy trial in 1985. 


Jeffery L. Sheler, “All in the Family: As Billy Graham steps down, will his kids shape the future of American evangelicalism?”  U. S. News & World Report 133:24 (December 23, 2002):  136-43.

See also

       Billy Graham just completed his 412th Crusade.  He has been with us always, and it is hard to imagine a time when he will not be a part of the fabric of the American religious landscape.  Yet Graham is now 84 years old and in poor health, and so even the secular press is now speculating on who will take his place.  In his article in U.S. News & World Report, Jeffery Sheler recounts the successes of Billy Graham and then focuses his attention on the two most likely heirs to the Graham dynasty:  Graham’s children Franklin and Anne.  Sheler highlights the ministries of both Franklin and Anne and then quotes Martin Marty, who reminds us, “A Billy Graham comes along once a century.”

Help! I Have to Teach a Winter Bible Study

Tony W. Cartledge, ed. “1 and 2 Samuel” Review and Expositor 99:2 (Spring 2002): 139-276.

       Have any of you been invited to teach this year’s Winter Bible Study on 1 and 2 Samuel?  How are you going to cover all that material?  Where will you be able to find good resources?  Is this a hopeless assignment?  Before you completely give up, check out the newest edition of Review and Expositor.  This issue has nine well-written articles on topics that range from prophecy in 1 and 2 Samuel to preaching 1 Samuel as community mental health.  There is even an article outlining the top ten preaching texts in 1 Samuel plus an article on teaching Bible studies from 1 and 2 Samuel in a congregational setting.  Your friends at Review and Expositor have once again come through for you–they have provided scholarly yet accessible materials for you as you prepare for Winter Bible Study! 

Reflections from a Long-Time Supporter of Women in Ministry

David M. Scholer, “Past Present, Promise: What I’ve learned in forty years about women in ministry,” Priscilla Papers 16:4 (Fall 2002): 12-15.

       Thirty years ago David Scholer, professor of New Testament and associate dean at Fuller Theological Seminary, taught for the first time a seminary course which he called “Women and Ministry in the New Testament.”  In his article, “Past, Present, Promise,” Scholer briefly tells of his own journey from a fundamentalist Baptist church to the American Baptist denomination, and then he offers several exegetical and historical insights with regard to women in ministry.  His article is especially helpful because he not only shares some of his own experiences; he shares lessons he has learned and resources he has valued in his many years of championing women in ministry. 




Baptist Women in America: a column on the specific role of Baptist women in America by Carolyn DeArmond Blevins, Professor of Religion, Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, TN.

Women in Baptist Heritage

       Sally Parsons was a traveling evangelist in the late 1790s in Free Will Baptist churches.  Parsons was so effective that when Free Will Baptists met for their Yearly Meeting in 1797 they took an offering to assist her evangelistic work.  With the money they bought her a horse, saddle, and bridle to use as long as she traveled and labored in the cause by exhorting, praying and by “personal effort.”  When Sally married four years later the Baptists insisted that she keep the gifts.

       Hannah Chesterman willed half of her plantation to the Baptist church in Middletown, New Jersey in the late 1700s.   The plantation sold for 712 pounds. The church should have received 356 pounds but Morgan Edwards reported that the church’s money “was reduced to a pittance by that sacrilegious thing, Congress money" [Materials toward a history of the churches in Jersey].

        After the Civil War Joanna P. Moore, a white woman, attended a jubilee meeting on New Year’s Day 1863. People shouted for joy when they heard that black people were free.  But Joanna thought the victory also carried a level of sadness for the newly freed men and women needed a lot of help. They did not know independence, they knew only dependence.  Within months Joanna went with no salary initially, to Island 10 near Memphis to help the 1100 women and children there learn to read and to live independently.  Her work until her death in 1916 was notable for its focus on interracial cooperation.  Some Baptist women in the North did not share her egalitarian  racial views and most in the South did not. But she had enormous respect among many Baptists, black and white, for her untiring work in black communities at a crucial time.


Baptist Books: Notes of books, past and present, by and about Baptists, by Dr. Glenn Jonas, Charles Howard Professor of Religion and Chairman of the Department of Religion and Philosophy, Campbell University, Buies Creek, North Carolina.


What is a Baptist?

Everett C. Goodwin, Down by the Riverside: A Brief History of Baptist Faith.  Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2002.  viii + 134 pp.

            Everett C. Goodwin is pastor of Scarsdale Community Church in Scarsdale, New York and formerly senior minister at the First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.  This book provides a basic orientation to the distinctiveness of the Baptist tradition. It includes an overview of Baptist history and a discussion of the basic principles of what it means to be Baptist. This is an excellent resource for small groups, Sunday School classes, or new members’ classes. And while all Baptists would gain a greater understanding of what being Baptist means by reading this book, it specifically targets young people, new Baptists and the laity. Too often writers of Baptist history produce works intended for other scholars. While this is good and necessary for the future of Baptist studies, it is refreshing, even necessary, for works to be produced which specifically aim to educate laity about our heritage. This is especially true in the South with the demise of the old Church Training programs that were designed to train Baptists about their history and practices.

Goodwin divides this book into three sections. In the first section he provides a brief overview of Baptist beginnings in England and then comes to focus on the rise of the Baptist tradition in America. The second section of the book chronicles how Baptists in America organized and became institutionalized in order to do missions. The final section discusses Baptist beliefs focusing particularly on the Bible, theology, the church, freedom, and missions. Particularly helpful is the book’s conclusion which discusses the challenges confronting Baptists in the third millennium. I highly recommend this book and believe it will become an important work to help Baptist churches educate themselves about our tradition.




Baptist Firsts: Charles Deweese, executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, writes this section of BSB. He identifies some of the “firsts” in Baptist life in America. 

The First Baptist Church in America: 1639


        Today, tens of thousands of Baptist churches dot the American landscape. In 1639, there was only one. Roger Williams founded that congregation in Providence, Rhode Island. Who was Williams? What was the context for forming that church? What Baptist principles evolved from that fellowship of believers for future generations of Baptists?

        Williams (c.1603-1684) was born in London and reared in the Church of England. A 1627 graduate of Cambridge University, he became a Separatist in 1629, meaning that he withdrew from the Church of England, viewing it to be a false church. To escape likely imprisonment because of his religious views, he and his wife Mary took a ship to New England, arriving in early 1631.

       Following several years of conflict with the religious officials of New England, Williams fled into the wilderness in early 1636. Sustained by Indians, he and several friends established Providence Plantations in June 1636. This new colony promoted democracy, religious freedom, and the separation of church and state.

       In that context, Williams and others formed the first Baptist church in the new world by March 1639 on the basis of believer’s baptism. These early Baptists insisted on voluntarism in faith, liberty of conscience, complete religious liberty for all people, church/state separation, and congregational church government.

       This Baptist church in Providence was a true laypersons’ church. It typically met in members’ homes and out in the open until it constructed its own building about 1700.  

       Rhode Island would continue to serve as a pivotal colony for Baptist “firsts” in America. In 1764, Rhode Island College would be organized as the first Baptist college in America. In 1767, the Warren Baptist Association would be formed as the first Baptist association in New England.

       Baptists in the South and West, take note: Our debt to New England Baptists is real.


Baptist Classics in America: this column introduces you to historic and influential Baptist documents in America. It is written by Walter B. Shurden, executive director, The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University.


John Clarke, Ill Newes From New England, 1652

by Walter B. Shurden


             The myth stubbornly persists in American history that the founders of this country came here to establish religious liberty for all people. Not so! It is true that many of the earliest settlers came here to escape religious persecution. They came to America, however, to establish religious liberty for themselves, not for all citizens. Few people anywhere in the seventeenth century believed in religious liberty as a principle for all people. Universal religious liberty evolved as a hard-earned freedom in America. The last state church in this country was not dismantled until 1833, more than two centuries after the founding of the earliest colonies.

            Baptists led the parade for universal liberty of conscience in early America. And John Clarke, a medical doctor, served as the Baptist drum-major in that parade!  Yet many Baptists have never heard of him. Clarke wrote a fiery Baptist classic exposing religious persecution in seventeenth century New England. It was called Ill Newes From New England.

            In 1651, John Clarke and two of his church members, John Crandall and Obadiah Holmes, from the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island, traveled to Lynn, Massachusetts. In Lynn they conducted a worship service in the home of William Witter, a blind and aging Baptist. That trip became one of the most famous events in American Baptist history. It also became the occasion for John Clarke’s Ill Newes from New England.

            Civil authorities brusquely interrupted the Baptist worship service in old man Witter’s house that day. Then they arrested Clarke, Crandall, and Holmes, eventually taking them to Boston to be tried for breaking the unjust laws of Massachusetts. Friends paid fines for Clarke and Crandall, and they were released. But stubborn old Obadiah Holmes refused to let his fine be paid. As a result he was lashed thirty times with a “three-coarded whip” on Market Street in downtown Boston. At the end of the humiliating whipping, Holmes looked to the civil magistrates and said, “You have struck me as with Roses.”

            Clarke asked for an opportunity to debate the New England Puritan clergy on the questions surrounding freedom of worship. The Puritans refused. But the next year, while visiting in England, Clarke continued the debate when he wrote Ill Newes from New England.  Very intentionally he sent a copy to the Parliament of England. He fervently hoped that it would become political leverage for the rulers of Old England to rid New England of its religious intolerance.

            In this Baptist classic Clarke narrates the imprisonment in 1651 of the three Rhode Islanders. Important for the narrative alone, Ill Newes also contains important  primary documents–court proceedings, autobiographical statements, and a confessional statement–that make Ill Newes all the more significant in Baptist history. Clarke obviously intended Ill Newes, consisting of these multiple documents, to serve several different functions.

            First, Ill Newes  was a historical document. It  exposed the dirty details of the harsh and unjust treatment of the three Rhode Islanders. In maybe the most serious  understatement in Baptist history, Clarke described the Lynn incident as  “discourteous treatment.” But he also graphically described the incivility of the Massachusetts magistrates toward the three Baptists from Rhode Island, and he exposed the cruel laws of religious discrimination of the Commonwealth.

            Second, Ill Newes served as a theological document in several ways. It constituted a bombastic attack on  the religious prejudices of Puritan New England. Also, it repudiated  the theological manner in which the Puritans ordered their church life. Incidentally, if one ever suspected that the Baptist appeal for religious freedom came from soft and uncertain religious convictions, one should read Ill Newes for sterness of conviction alone. Our Baptist ancestors were nothing if not sure of themselves. In fact, they were at times downright self-righteous!

            Third, in the process of exposing the theological deficiencies of Puritanism, Clarke gladly confessed his Baptist understanding of Christianity. The longest part of the document contains Clarke’s valuable confession of faith. Indeed, the confession of faith in Ill Newes is the earliest confessional statement we have from the pen of Baptists in America.

            Fourth, Clarke cleverly directed  Ill Newes  toward the civil rulers of Old England.  With calculating deference, he refers to the English rulers as the “rod and staff” of “the most high.” Clarke hoped, of course, that the powers of Old England would exert pressure on New England, granting elbow room for freedom of conscience in the colonies.

            What did Clarke say in Ill Newes? He said

            . . . conscience was that “sparkling beam from the Father of lights and spirits that...cannot be lorded over, commanded, or forced, either by men, devils, or angels. . . .” (6);

            . . . conscience or the inward person can only be dealt with by way of “convincing, converting, transforming, and as it were a-new creating of them” (7);

            . . . that he wanted the Puritans delivered from their false zeal for God which led to “soul murdering” (10);

            . . . that the Puritans who wronged him, Crandall, and Holmes had “much more wronged [their] own souls in transgressing the very law, and light of nations. . . .” (16);

            . . . that each Christian should “search the Scriptures, and therein to wait for the power and glory of the spirit of God” (21);

            What may we learn from this Baptist doctor from Rhode Island? Clarke lived when Baptists constituted a distinct minority. You and I live in a time when Baptists have become the largest Protestant group in America. Maybe we should pause, take stock of the minorities among us–people such as Clarke and Holmes and Crandall–and recommit ourselves to religious freedom for all on the basis of principle.




Last Month's Letters to the Editors

Email your letters to  <> by 8 Febuary 2003.

James Aycock (Mercer grad, CHR major, 2002) wrote:

        I wanted to respond to Alan Neely's article on Philip Jenkins' article. Dr Neely makes several very good criticisms of Jenkins, in his "serious misgivings." However, he first says Jenkins' observations are "alarmist" and based on "a trend." Neely implies that such a trend will not lead to the next reformation of Christianity. But while he may be correct, he seems to miss the prophetic voice Jenkins may be speaking with. For a prophet interprets the world and sees its logical end, its telos. The prophet speaks so that her/his words will change the world. We see this in Jonah, where Jonah's prophecy was indeed incorrect. But would his words have been false had he not spoken them? Likewise, I see Jenkins' article as a warning of what is becoming, and what will come if we do not listen and act against such trends. That is my take. I enjoy the BSB.


James W. Edmonds of Macon Ga. wrote:

        Well about twenty five years ago Dr. Buddy Shurden awarded me the grade of “C” for my contribution to his class on Baptist History at Southern Seminary, in return let me award the staff an “A” for the contents of both the last three edition of the Bulletin. Dr. Glen Stassen's “Why I Oppose a War against Iraq” and “Marching as to War” by Ernest T. Campbell in the October issue were both to the point.  I served in the Army as a chaplain in  the last Gulf War, and I find myself asking, is this gospel of peace, or some kind of unresolved Freudian agenda with, George Walker Bush?



Baptistville: Goings-On Among Baptists

Conferences and Lectures:


       Conflict in the Church: Doing Ministry in Tough Times

         A conference sponsored by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University on March 6, 2003.

         Leaders: Dr. Larry McSwain and Dr. Kay Shurden

         Registration Fees: $25

         Mail checks (payable to "Mercer University") to:

         The Center for Baptist Studies

         Mercer University

         1400 Coleman Ave.

         Macon, Georgia 31207

         Click here for more details


       When Religion Becomes Evil

        With Dr. Charles Kimball, Chair of the Department of Religion, Wake Forest University

        April 22, 2003

        Cost: $25 (Registration and refund deadline April 15, 2003)

        To register: Contact Greg Thompson (478) 301-5467

        Mail checks (payable to "Mercer University") to:

        The Center for Baptist Studies

        Mercer University

        1400 Coleman Ave.

        Macon, GA 31207


        The John A. Hamrick Lectureship

          January 26-27 2003

          Delivered by Martin E. Marty, noted preacher, author and historian and Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago Divinity School will be held at First Baptist Church, 61 Church Street, Charleston, South Carolina.