"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"

March  2003              Vol. 2  No. 3


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

              “Baptists and the Children"

       The Baptist Soapbox: by Johnnye Jo Lott


       Baptist Spirituality in America: by E. Glenn Hinson

              “From Contemplative to Conversionist Spirituality”

         Baptist Studies Special:  Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context

             Tillman, Lewis, Valentine, and Gaddy on Stassen/Gushee

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

             Durso Finds Relevant Articles for Baptists

        Baptist Women in America: by Carolyn DeArmond Blevins

              Helen Barrett Montgomery

         Baptist Books: by Glenn Jonas

              "Jonas Looks at Baptist Associations and Kentucky Baptist history"

        Baptist Firsts: by Charles Deweese

             “The First Baptist College in America”

        Letters to the Editor:

              Letter from Norm Langston

        Baptistville: by Greg Thompson

              Happenings in Baptistville


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“Baptists and the Children”

by Walter B. Shurden

I Believe . . .

             that Baptists have never quite known what to make of the children in our midst. In our passionate attempts to create “believers churches,” we do not baptize our infants. We “dedicate” them in a kind of “dry baptism” to show to the world that the little ones “belong” to our churches. And fortunately many of our churches have done a stellar job of nurturing the children through an educational ministry that begins at birth. Most children who come to our churches Sunday after Sunday have no problem in identifying. They speak the words gladly and with all the gusto of capitalistic ownership: “my” church, “my” pastor, and “my” Sunday School teacher. The children feel a sense of belonging in most of our Baptist churches. And that is good, too, because the experience of “belonging” often precedes “believing.”

            My guess is that, outside the fact that Baptists don’t baptize infants and that children cannot take the Lord’s Supper until they join the church, the children who grow up in our churches never learn much of what it means to be a Baptist. Our literature for educating the children into the Baptist vision of the Christian faith is very scarce. Moreover, our educational efforts to teach the young ones who Baptists are and where Baptists came from are even scarcer.

            People ask me from time to time about sources for teaching the younger ones the Baptist heritage. There are a few. Judson Press has published three paperback books that make a significant stride toward helping us educate our children in the Baptist heritage. Jeffrey D. Jones and Debra L. Sutton have written We Are Baptists: Studies for Younger Elementary Children and We Are Baptists: Studies for Youth. Jones himself wrote a third volume: We Are Baptists: Studies for Older Elementary Children. The last time I checked Judson’s online catalog the books sold for $12.00 each. They beg to be used in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and youth meetings.

            Smyth & Helwys Publishing Company, a Baptist publisher that gets an “A+” in the general area of educating its readers in Baptist principles, has also published an excellent Vacation Bible Study curriculum for children. Called “Celebrate Freedom: A Baptist Distinctives Vacation Bible School,” this study also has a brief section in it for young people and adults.

            If you and your church know of resources, ideas, and strategies for teaching children and young people the Baptist heritage, please let me know. I would be very interested in knowing what your church has done in educating the younger ones in the Baptist tradition. What has happened in your church to turn the children toward the Baptist vision of Christianity?

            While speaking of the children, I want to place before you a thin, but very inspiring and sobering, book of poems. It is In the Cold of The Sun: Children in Crisis, and it is written by good friend, Johnnye Jo Lott. When we first read the book at our house, our eyes watered. These are poems about children and . . . poverty . . . abuse . . . obesity and cruel teasing . . . ADHD . . . children in the labor force . . . bullying . . . racial discrimination . . . teen-parent conflict, and much more. Make a fifteen dollar check payable to “Fields Publishing Inc.” and send it to: Fields Publishing Inc., 917 Harpeth Valley Place, Nashville, TN 37221. The email address is: <> . The phone number is 615-662-1344.

            You can read one of Mrs. Lott’s poems in the Baptist Soapbox below. Read it slowly and meditatively. Let it rest on your soul like a lozenge in your mouth. It and the other poems in the book will seep into crevices of your life that you had forgotten were there. You will discover, I hope, how exceedingly religious Lott’s poetry really is. And as you read, keep these statistics in mind: eleven million children will die this year before the age of five; six million will die of treatable or preventable diseases; forty percent of the children with pneumonia this year will not receive antibiotics. Let us pray:

            God bless the pediatricians and all who heal the children of pain.

                        God bless the ministers to children and all who teach the children that they belong.

                                    God bless the church universal to act for the defenseless (James 1:27).                                    God bless the Baptists around the world and help them to make sure that the children belong long before the children can believe and are baptized.


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THE BAPTIST SOAPBOX: Invited guests speak up and out on things Baptist (therefore, the views expressed in this space are not necessarily those of The Baptist Studies Bulletin, though sometimes they are). Johnnye Jo Lott, a college president’s wife, is also a poet sensitive to children. The following poem comes from her book In the Cold of the Sun: Children in Crisis. She wrote these words as background to her poem titled “Solution”: “The disruptive behavior of a child at school is often attributed to a bad attitude or lack of respect. However, as is revealed in this story told to me by a friend and elementary school counselor, a little one’s troublesome actions can mask a far deeper and more distressing reason.”  


by Johnnye Jo Lott


The door is closed

Against the school day din;

Counselor and child,

Like judge and defendant,

Sit face to face.

Recrimination and concern mingle

In uneasy alliance in her eyes;

In his, defiance holds its ground.


Tell me why, she says,

And recalls his crimes of the day;

His silence complicates her gruffness;

His sobs surprise her;

My mama’s in jail, he says,

And if I be bad,

Maybe they’ll put me in there, too.


In transforming mother-grace

She gathers the small boy to her,

In an embrace of collaborative grief.




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.


Lottie's Way

by E. Glenn Hinson

       Lottie Moon’s letters, diary, and other writings leave one indelible impression about her spirituality: A mania for missions motivated, energized, and directed it. A missionary was to her the model Christian. On the death of Mrs. C.W. Pruitt, a Northern Presbyterian missionary who became a Baptist in China, Lottie lauded her as “one who fell as truly a martyr as the saints of old who laid down their lives for the Lord Jesus.” She painted a portrait of a missionary zealous to learn the language, dedicated without restraint to discharging her assigned task as a teacher, “thoughtful and considerate of others” but unsparing of herself and her personal health. Missions inspired Lottie’s proposal of a week of prayer and self-denial in 1887. What ignited her concern was the fact that Methodists were doing much more effective mission work in China than Southern Baptists were. After describing the difference, she asked, “How do these Methodist women raise so much money?” She answered, “By prayer and self-denial.” Immediately, then, she appended a resolution that the Foreign Mission Board recommends to the WMU the observance of the week before Christmas as “a week of prayer and self denial.” Thence originated the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, though prayer and self-denial seem to have been quietly forgotten. Not often, but now and then Lottie Moon let her readers glimpse the spiritual stream which underflowed her occupation. As it came to her that “This ancient continent of Asia whose soil you are treading was the chosen theatre for the advent of the Son of God,” she experienced a rush of emotion and felt her heart “aglow with longing to bear to others the priceless gift that you have received, that thus you may manifest your thankfulness & love to the giver.”


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BSB SPECIAL: Glen Stassen of Fuller Seminary and David Gushee of Union University, both Baptists, have written a blockbuster book on Christian ethics (Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003. Pp. xii + 538. ISBN: 0-8308-2668-8. $30.00, cloth). BSB wants to call this book to the attention of all  Baptists. We, therefore, asked four Baptist ethicists, Bill Tillman, Jr., of Logsdon School of Theology, Paul Lewis of Mercer University,  Foy Valentine, retired Executive Director of the Christian Life Commission of the SBC, and Welton Gaddy, President, The Interfaith Alliance, to give us short reviews of the book.


William M. Tillman, Jr., T. B. Maston Professor of Christian Ethics, Logsdon School of Theology, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas

            Few Baptists have made the foray into the writing world with regard to Christian Ethics. Stassen, formerly of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and now in the Lewis B. Smedes Chair of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Gushee, Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union University in Tennessee, provide a hefty effort to offset that trend.

            The writers presuppose that little has been done in the discipline of Christian ethics with regard to the teachings and practices of Jesus.The student of Christian ethics will find probably only a book or two per generation which addresses Jesus and the moral life. Stassen and Gushee propose that the Sermon on the Mount should be the primary infrastructure for such consideration, especially with regard to setting the agenda for Christian ethics. Thus, they propose a Christocentric hermeneutic.

            The authors present twenty four chapters divided into seven sections. The first, “The Reign of God and Christian Character,” considers the meaning of the Kingdom of God. The second, “The Way of Jesus and Prophetic Authority,” reviews moral authority and moral norms in Christian ethics. The third, “The Gospel of Life,” addresses issues of life and death. The fourth, “Male and Female,” examines issues of sexuality, gender, and marriage. The fifth, “The Central Norms of Christian Ethics,” delineates love and justice. The sixth looks at “Relationships of Justice and Love,” through the lens of truth-telling, race, economics, and creation care. The final section, “A Passion for God’s Reign,” concludes the book with attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer, politics, and moral practices.

            The writers envision a broad audience. College and seminary students, professional ethicists, and “the thoughtful general reader” (xiv) form the target for Stassen and Gushee.

            Have Stassen and Gushee given us a book that develops the parameters of Christian ethics? Indeed, they do. If the reader is looking for the delineation of the primary theories and issues of life which become the province of Christian ethics, here is a tool.

            Does the book engage the primary spokespersons across the spectrum of Christian theology and ethics? Again, the answer is yes. For those who know Stassen’s interests over the years, they will not be surprised to find some expansive discussion related to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Moreover, an extensive dialogue is carried on throughout the book with a broad group of Christian ethical thinkers. You will need to decide whether the authors’ omission of historical thinkers such as Augustine, or of historians such as A. J. Cadoux, Ernst Troeltsch, or H. Richard Niebuhr (Christ and Culture) is justified. Moreover, Stassen and Gushee give no attention to twentieth century American ethicists such as Georgia Harkness or George Thomas or European ethicists such as Emil Brunner, R. E. O. White or Oliver O’Donovan.    

            Kingdom Ethics needed editorial help. Such help would have addressed minor breakdowns of organizational clarity and readability. Some sections have pages of text without subheads. This omission runs headlong into the efforts of Stassen and Gushee to provide a listing approach to many facets of their text. The use of sidebar “pullout” quotes and shaded boxes need consistency through the text. Stassen and Gushee attempt to maintain personal and distinct points of writing of some sections. Generally that is effective. Yet some unnecessary redundancy occurs. Obviously, the plus side of two writers, with essentially the same perspectives, provides more energy for a project which increasingly becomes more than one person needs to attempt.

            Passages from the Sermon on the Mount form the opening of each chapter. Better connections between the passages and each chapter’s development could have been made, however. With the exception of the last two chapters, little expositional commentary is given from the passages. Instead, the chapters tend to be developed around a middle axiom approach.

            One would have hoped that two Baptists would have found ways under the issue treatments to speak more boldly regarding separation of church and state. As well, the section related to race deals almost exclusively with African-American developments. The racial mosaic in America now presents Christian ethics with powerful Asian and Hispanic voices.

            In spite of the limitations addressed, this reviewer can still recommend the book. When I teach the course “Jesus and the Moral Life,” this one will be required reading for the students.


Paul Lewis, The Roberts Department of Christianity, Mercer University, Macon, GA

            Observing that although the Christian churches confess Jesus as Messiah, they typically ignore or misinterpret the teachings and practices of Jesus, Stassen and Gushee write in order "to reclaim Jesus Christ for Christian ethics and the moral life of the churches" (xi). Kingdom Ethics thus joins an increasing body of literature that places Jesus at the center of Christian ethics. Stassen and Gushee offer a Baptist voice in a conversation that includes Roman Catholic ethicist William Spohn (Go and Do Likewise), Reformed ethicist Allen Verhey (Remembering Jesus) and Presbyterian theologian Douglas F. Ottati (Jesus Christ and Christian Vision).

           Kingdom Ethics contributes to and extends this conversation primarily through its creative appropriation of the Sermon on the Mount. Stassen and Gushee intend to make the teachings of the Sermon central to Christian ethics. The authors interpret the Sermon not as hard sayings or high ideals, but as instructions in concrete practices that help Christians do God's will in God's inaugurated but not fully realized kingdom (31). Methodologically, Stassen and Gushee argue that there is a tacit pattern to the Sermon that needs to be normative for Christian ethics (sections 1-2). According to that pattern, Jesus addresses traditional teachings, identifies vicious cycles that perpetuate injustices and offers transforming initiatives that can break cycles of sin and injustice (132-145).

            Using that pattern as model for Christian ethical reflection, Stassen and Gushee address a variety of current moral issues (sections 3-6). They examine matters of life and death (war, violence, criminal justice and medicine). They reflect on issues that revolve around gender (marriage and divorce, sexuality and gender roles). They explore what love and justice mean both theoretically and practically as they address the topics of truthtelling, race, economics and the environment. The authors conclude by exhorting Christians to be doers of God's word and suggesting that the passions that enable Christians to do so can nurtured by spending time in prayer and participating in the world of politics (section 7).

            Stassen and Gushee do a masterful job of developing their reading of the Sermon in conversation with biblical scholars and ethicists. However, while they make a compelling case for their reading of the Sermon, they do not follow its pattern consistently. Thus the rubric of vicious cycles and transformative practice sometimes comes off as forced (e.g., with matters of health care) and at times drops out of the discussion (e.g., race). This fact serves as a useful reminder that neither the Sermon, nor the Bible as a whole, addresses many specific issues with which contemporary Christians wrestle.

            Although the methodological discussions will be of interest mostly to graduate students and fellow scholars, Kingdom Ethics deserves to be read by clergy and laity alike and should serve well as a text in undergraduate and graduate classes. While seemingly addressed to a more conservative, evangelical audience, Kingdom Ethics does not fit easily into normal categories. The authors take more liberal stances on some issues (especially matters of social justice) and more conservative stances on others (e.g., abortion). Methodologically, they fit into H. Richard Niebuhr's sectarian type by their emphasis on following the teachings of Jesus and their exhortation for the church to be countercultural. On the other hand, Stassen and Gushee are anything but sectarian in either their activism or their willingness to draw insights and information from a variety of intellectual disciplines. As a book that may stretch a reader's stereotypes, it will likely both frustrate and challenge, and that alone makes it worthwhile.


Foy Valentine, retired Executive Director, The Christian Life Commission, SBC

          Baptist Christian Social Ethicists Glen Stassen and David Gushee have jointly authored a book representing their "conviction that the moral witness of Jesus Christ our Lord has been neglected, misunderstood and even evaded," resulting in "nothing less than the malformation of Christianity." To which I lustily shout, Hear! Hear!

This is a big, good book.

It will be particularly helpful for seminary and college students who will find it devout, thorough, and well-documented as they study Christian social ethics now and as they return to it for years to come. Pastors and Christian laypersons will be significantly helped by the breadth and depth and practicality of this book. As a Christian ethicist who has plowed in this field for more than fifty years, I cannot imagine not going often to this excellent resource for insights, information, practical help, and treatments that are fair and informed regarding the many issues addressed.

The book is rooted firmly in Old Testament theology and in New Testament teachings. The reign of God envisioned particularly by Isaiah and the Sermon on the Mount as preached and taught by Jesus constitute the stackpole for this volume.

It is strengthened by numerous personal references and experiences by the authors. I was prepared to find the joint authorship problematical, even difficult; but that challenge has actually been resolved about as well as it could be, I think. In some respects the book is actually better for the diversity brought to the subject by these two strong Baptist ethicists.

While the authors, both academicians, have allowed certain personal preferences and leanings to be reflected in what they have written, this is not a major problem. They generally lean over a good bit to try to be fair when there are clearly two possible interpretations or approaches as the reader can see clearly in Stassen's chapters related to peace and peacemaking and in Gushee's chapter on abortion.

I find their bias toward the so-called Evangelicals and away from Baptists rather painful; but it is a pain which I often experience and to which I am almost becoming accustomed. Surely Walter Rauschenbusch deserves more than the single reference I found given to him on page 423. I am also grieved that Christian social ethicist T. B. Maston who was far and away the most effective proponent of Christian social ethics in the Baptist world for the last half of the Twentieth Century received shamefully short shrift at the hands of his Baptist brethren. Henlee H. Barnette fares only a very little bit better as does Clarence Jordan, Christian social ethics practitioner par excellence. Seminary and college textbooks that might also have been appropriately referenced are Understanding Christian Ethics: An Interpretive Approach by William M. Tillman, Jr. and Walking in the Way: an Introduction to Christian Ethics by Joe E. Trull. Furthermore, such practicing Christian social ethicists as Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, Millard and Linda Fuller, Bill Moyers, Brooks Hays, Hugo Black, James Dunn, and Mark Hatfield might well have received respectful attention. The book does have some serious, even glaring, oversights, omissions, and weaknesses.

Still, Kingdom Ethics has some impressive strengths:

1. It is consistently focused on Christian social ethics.

2. It reflects decades of serious, scholarly, and devout study.

3. It shows a thorough knowledge of the subject.

4. It is chock full of helpful references to the works of others.

5. It presents a combination of courage and compassion in good prophetic tradition.

6. It is practical, relevant, and biblical.

7. It is timely but firmly anchored in changeless principles.

Counsel: Spend the $30 and buy this book.


C. Welton Gaddy, President, The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, Washington, DC; Pastor for Preaching and Worship, Northminster Church, Monroe, Louisiana

            Christian ethics is, most simply put, following Jesus of Nazareth who was called “the Christ.” However, between making that straightforward declaration and answering the towering question of what it means to follow Jesus today, simplicity gives way to complexity. Undeterred by this complexity and convinced of the simplicity of the following-Jesus definition of Christian ethics, Glen Stassen and David Gushee have written a comprehensive new introductory interpretation to Christian ethics.

              Concerned that an absence of adequate attention to the teachings of Jesus in many previous studies on ethics has led to perversion in Christian morality, Stassen and Gushee focus intensely on the teachings and practices of Jesus generally and pay special attention to the Sermon on the Mount.  After grappling responsibly with the ethical methodologies of situationism (what is ethical is decided in each unique situation), legalism (what is ethical is determined by absolute rules), principlism (what is ethical is defined by principles that support rules but that can override rules), and contextualism (what is ethical is determined by theological convictions and narrative contexts), Stassen and Gushee offer an ethical methodology of their own—“Incarnational discipleship.” The authors determine what is ethical through an affirmation of rules and principles that are embodied in narratives, the most authoritative of which is the Bible, and narratives that are embodied in rules and principles, the most authoritative of which derive from the imperatives of Jesus. 

            The authors develop support for their methodology by means of an argument that is always compelling, though not always satisfactorily consistent. While impatient with the subjectivity of religious experience as a source of moral authority, the authors do not completely erase suspicion that views of Jesus, interpretations of the Bible, and influences within the Christian community are not also subjective. When their determination of an ethical response to a challenging issue takes them as far as they can go with reference to Jesus’ specific teachings, they understandably engage in subjective interpretations of other sources of moral authority.

Much can be learned about their methodology by a brief look at the authors’ treatment of two or three ethical dilemmas that are subjects of hot and often divisive debates in contemporary Christian congregations.

            First, what about war? Given a dichotomy of war (even Just War) and peace, the authors choose the “transforming initiative” of “just peacemaking” as an “obligatory dimension of Christian discipleship” (150). After warning Christians that government should not be allowed to determine Christians’ views on the morality of a war, the authors encourage readers to discuss just war theory, pacifism, and just peacemaking and then, individually, make a personal decision about war (counsel much weaker than the principled arguments that precede it).

            Second, what about homosexuality? Based on the fact that Jesus did not speak on the issue of homosexuality, Stassen and Gushee suspect the current preoccupation with homosexuality may be displaced. Nevertheless, they address this issue making the concept of “covenant” a normative value in their thought. After successfully balancing the Hebrew Scriptures’ affirmation of the male-female model for sexual union found in creation and Jesus’ stern warning against Christians judging other people, the authors conclude that homosexual conduct is “one form of sexual expression that falls outside the will of God” (again reaching a conclusion somewhat out of step with the reasoned biblical interpretation that precedes it).

Given the central role of government in deciding the legal fate of innumerable moral issues, Stassen and Gushee would have served their readers well by a fuller examination of the proper relationship between Christians, politics, and government. The current religious-political context begs for an intelligent biblical reconciliation of the authors’ twin affirmations that, first, God is Lord over government and only God should receive absolute obedience and, second, religious liberty is essential as is support for a democracy that may not always reflect the morality of the Sermon on the Mount or even the broader sweep of the Bible.

            This book deserves careful study. With scholarly integrity and spiritual conviction, Stassen and Gushee write about an ethic centered on Jesus that challenges anyone who disagrees with them to demonstrate how a position of opposition reflects more devotion to Jesus and obedience to his teachings than does theirs.




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.


Is This a Just War?

Mark Douglas, “Changing the Rules: Just War Theory in the Twenty-First Century,” Theology Today 59:4 (January 2003), 529-45.

As war with Iraq looms on the horizon, we have been inundated with arguments for and against the fighting of this war. Many church leaders and theologians question whether this conflict falls into the just war category. Mark Douglas, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Columbia Theological Seminary, moves beyond the question of whether this particular war is just and challenges us to reevaluate the criteria for a just war. He believes that the advent of modernity and now post-modernity have new implications for the application of just war criteria, and, in his article, he traces the current just war criteria and their origin. Douglas also explores historical changes in politics, economics, technology and religion and then notes the impact these changes have had on just war criteria. His conclusion is that we ought to turn to the deeper Christian values and virtues that underlie traditional just war theory and use these values and virtues to develop new criteria that will function better in the 21st century.


School Vouchers

Erik C. Owens, “Taking the ‘Public’ Out of Our Schools: The Political, Constitutional and Civic Implications of Private School Vouchers,” Journal of Church and State 44:4 (Autumn 2002), 717-47.

School vouchers are controversial, and there are numerous reasons why they have been attacked by politicians, religious leaders, and educators. Erik Owens’ article provides insight into the reasons vouchers have been supported, the accomplishments that vouchers were designed to achieve, and the relationship between school vouchers and the first amendment and democratic education. While voucher programs seem to be stalled right now, Baptists need to be aware of the issues involved in using both privately and publicly funded vouchers, and Owens’ article provides a great overview.


“In God We Trust”

Louis Fisher and Nada Mourtada-Sabbah, “Adopting ‘In God We Trust’ As the U. S. National Motto” Journal of Church and State 44:4 (Autumn 2002), 671-92.

Have you ever wondered how so many religious mottos were incorporated into the fabric of American society? Last summer the controversy over the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance provided information about the writing of our great national oath, and now Louis Fisher and Nada Mourtada-Sabbah have provided a historical review of the adoption of “In God We Trust” as the nation’s motto, one that is placed on our coins and our paper money. Their essay explores the litigation that resulted from the use of this motto and the judicial doctrines that regard the motto as more secular and ceremonial than religious. Most interesting in the article is the section that reviews Theodore Roosevelt’s removal of that motto from the coins. Roosevelt believed that using such a motto on such mundane items as coins represented “irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege.” Of course, his views were not well accepted by religious leaders or politicians, and Congress soon voted to make the inscription mandatory.


SBC Churches Have Conflict?

Bob Sheffield, “How to Keep Church Conflict from Causing Chaos,” Church Administration 45:3 (Spring 2003), 6-9.

The theme of the spring issue of LifeWay’s Church Administration is conflict in the churches. Articles in the issue include “Jesus on Conflict,” “Getting Along with Difficult People,” and “When Conflict Comes to Church.” Bob Sheffield’s lead article, “How to Keep Church Conflict from Causing Chaos,” offers instructions about the kinds of conflict that occur in churches and how the church may best respond to that conflict. His guidelines for facing conflict include: (1) do not panic, (2) resist the temptation to deny that a potentially unhealthy conflict exists, (3) manage conflict in a way that encourages a healthy outcome, (4) apply appropriate scriptures, and (5) pray more and talk less. If practiced, these tips surely would bring to resolution much of the conflict that is prevalent in Baptist churches today.


Who Is Your Family?

Diana Garland, “Who Is Your Family? Membership Composition of American Protestant Families,” Social Work and Christianity: An International Journal 29:3 (Fall 2002), 183-223.

          Many Baptist congregations are struggling to find creative ways to respond to the concerns of families in their churches and in their communities. Diana Garland, Chair of the School of Social Work at Baylor University, offers helpful advice with regard to this issue based on her research on the family life of active members of thirty-two Protestant congregations. Using both survey data and family interviews, Garland’s research provides advice to both social workers in community agencies who work with Christian families and to congregational leaders who are seeking to customize family ministries to fit the strengths and needs of their own situation.




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 History

Helen Barrett Montgomery


Few, if any, women have made as many diverse contributions to religious and community life as Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934). Married to William, a successful businessman, and mother to a daughter, she devoted her life to making the world a better place. She:




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.


The Future of Local Associations

Thelma Hall Miller, ed., The Districts: Examining the Past and Possible Futures of Local Associations. Richmond: The Center for Baptist Heritage and Studies, 2002, 151 pp.

            In the early days of Baptist life, when Baptists were not in the majority and frequently experienced hostility from other Christians, local associations were a valuable resource for mutual support, doctrinal instruction, and fellowship. One question that arises from time to time in modern Baptist life concerns the value and place of the local association for Baptists in the twenty-first century. On February 5-6, 2002, the Center for Baptist Heritage and Studies at the University of Richmond convened a conference to examine the history and future of local or district associations in Baptist life. The book is a compilation of the papers presented at that conference. Participants were drawn from a variety of perspectives in Baptist life. Of particular interest in this volume are the papers presented by Charles Deweese, executive director of the Baptist History and Heritage Society and Fred Anderson, executive director of the Center for Baptist Heritage and Studies and the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. But equally rich are the contributions by other participants, particularly the presentations by lay participants and directors of missions.


Kentucky Baptist History

James Duane Bolin, Kentucky Baptists 1925-2000: A Story of Cooperation, Brentwood, TN, Southern Baptist Historical Society and Fields Publishing, Inc., 2000, 311 pp.

            Duane Bolin, Associate Professor of history at Murray State Univeristy has produced this history of Kentucky Baptists that roughly covers the twentieth century. It provides a nice addition to several other state convention histories which have been produced recently, most notably, Wayne Flynt’s history of Alabama Baptists, Leon McBeth’s history of Texas Baptists, and Albert Wardin’s history of Tennessee Baptists. Regretfully, this is not a complete history of Kentucky Baptists like the above works. However, this is a valuable contribution to the historiography of state convention history.




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 College in America


Anti-intellectualism and Baptists go together like apple pie and ice cream, say some. To the contrary, Baptists began to sponsor institutions of higher education in this country almost 240 years ago. Today, Baptists in the United States own and operate dozens of high-quality colleges and universities. But only one existed in 1764: Rhode Island College (now Brown University).

            Baptist compiler/historian Morgan Edwards conceived the idea of forming the college and was its primary founder. The Philadelphia Baptist Association, in which Edwards served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, urged financial support for the school. The school came into existence to offer general college training and specialized training for ministers.

Edwards, who had been educated at Bristol Baptist College in England in the 1740s, traveled through England, New England, and the Middle Colonies soliciting money and books for the college. He was deeply concerned that Baptists in America have an educated clergy.

James Manning, a Baptist minister, served as the first president of the college, which graduated its first class in 1769. A graduate of the College of New Jersey (B.A., 1762; M.A., 1765), Manning later founded the Warren Baptist Association in 1767 (the first such association in New England), moved the college from Warren to Providence in 1770, and became pastor of the Providence Baptist Church.

Rhode Island College, from its beginning, supported religious liberty. It did not require prospective students or faculty to take or pass religious tests.

The college significantly benefited Baptist progress. It provided trained leaders, many of whom made extraordinary contributions to the Baptist cause. It raised the educational awareness and image of Baptists in America. It created a source of connectionalism among Baptists as they contributed financial resources to this common educational effort.


Last Month's Letters to the Editors

Email your letters to  <> by 8 April 2003.


Norm Langston, Beaverton, Oregon wrote:

Although I agree with the main points of Dr. Shurden's articlethe need to reclaim the principle of religious freedom for all and the need to more greatly emphasize the role of African Americans in Baptist historyI do not think it is helpful to lump together the three historically black Baptist conventions. The differences between them are significant. It is comparable to "lumping together" Southern Baptists, American Baptists, Conservative Baptists, GARBs, and various "independent" Baptist groups. Yes, most of these are predominantly Anglo, but they don't mix well.

It would be helpful to see some statistics about how many Baptist churches are dually aligned and what those dual alignments look like. For instance, many PNBC churches are dually aligned w/American Baptist. How many predominantly black Southern Baptist churches also are affiliated with one of the three black Baptist groups?

Thanks for your excellent and thought-provoking articles!





Baptistville: Goings-On Among Baptists

Conferences and Lectures:



       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

        Click here for more details