THE BAPTIST STUDIES BULLETIN
"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"
August 2004 Vol. 3 No. 8
Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Walter B. Shurden, Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin
Bruce T. Gourley, Associate Director, The Center for Baptist Studies
Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin
I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden
The Baptist Soapbox: John D. Pierce
"Churches Can Creatively Counter False Assumptions About Freedom"
"A Whole New Way of Looking at the World"
Learned in My First Year as a Baptist Female Pastor:
Natalie Nicholas Adams
The Story of Primitive
Baptists: John G. Crowley
Dates to Note: Upcoming Events
By Walter B. Shurden
I believe . . .
in preaching. I know that this enterprise has been devalued and denigrated over the years by some and made boring by others. But I still believe very, very much in good preaching.
Billy Packer is an astute basketball analyst. But prior to that role, he was a basketball coach and a basketball player. He said that in his youth he was a "gym rat," hanging out in the gym every chance he got, "throwing up basketballs, practicing his moves, looking for the right rhythm" (As cited in Gene Owens, God, A Soul, A Moment, 24).
There is a sense in which I have been a "pulpit rat" ever since I was eighteen years old, hanging around the pulpit, "throwing out sermons, watching other preachers’ moves, and looking for the right rhythm" in preaching.
Bill Packer was a gym rat. But Will Campbell is a mess of a Baptist preacher. There is just no other way to say it. Will is a mess. He grew up at East Fork, near Liberty, Mississippi. Liberty was a good place for Will to be from, for his life has been about freedom. He protested in the Civil Rights movement. He became the unofficial chaplain to some Klansman as well as to country music stars in Nashville. A provocateur, he loves to shock with language and ideas and actions.
Some may not know that Will has diplomas from both Wake Forest University and Yale University. But he also has an ordination certificate from East Fork Baptist Church. While I cannot vouch for the story, I am told that Will Campbell gathered numerous certificates and his diplomas into a single frame and glued his certificate of ordination on the very top, symbolizing his proud vocation as a Baptist preacher.
I share his sentiments. My ordination certificate from the Second Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, burned in a fire at Carson-Newman College back in the 1970s, but it was among my most prized possessions.
We remember Martin Luther King, Jr. as a courageous civil rights leader. However, Martin Luther King, Jr. said of himself, "In the quiet recesses of my heart, I am fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher" (Richard Lischer, The Preacher King, 3).
Preaching is a proud tradition among the Baptist people for which we should never apologize. That is precisely why The Center for Baptist Studies and the McAfee School of Theology, both of Mercer University, sponsor the annual MERCER PREACHING CONSULTATION. Last year’s meeting (’03) at St. Simons Island, GA was one of the best conferences I have attended in years. This year’s ’04 CONSULTATION, to be held on September 26-28, and again at St. Simons Island, promises to be more of the same. Clyde Fant, Jr. and Chuck Poole spearhead the conference, but nine other stimulating speakers will also address the group. For a complete view of the schedule and registration information, go to www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies and click "Conferences." It is not too late to register, though we are getting close to our enrollment ceiling.
I committed my life to Christ when I was a freshman in college in the spring of 1955. I began the Christian journey in my dorm room on the second floor of Stadium Hall of Delta State University in Cleveland, MS. A lovable, compassionate, very slow-talking Baptist preacher, invited me and my roommate to give our lives to Christ in our dorm room at about 1:30 in the morning.
Several weeks later, and again, early in the morning hours, I got up out of a bed that could not tame my restlessness and walked down the hall to that preacher’s room to speak to him the most incredible words that had ever been formed in my mouth. I told him, "I think that God is calling me to preach." Since those days in the spring of 1955, preaching has been an art form before which I have stood in amazement. I sit enthralled before a good sermon the way art historians stand in ecstasy before a classic painting. I am simply dumbfounded -- and envious -- at the artistry of some preachers. How could anyone see anything in it all except a spiritual gift? But preaching is also an art with skills that must be honed. Honing the gifts of preaching is what we are up to at THE MERCER PREACHING CONSULTATION, ’04. Join us if you can.
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). Climbing upon the Soapbox this month is Dr. John D. Pierce, Executive Editor of Baptists Today.
"Churches Can Creatively Counter False Assumptions About Freedom"
By John D. Pierce
False assumptions about Baptists and freedom can be costly.
Three national ministries
raising the banners of historic freedoms -- Associated Baptist Press, the
Baptist Joint Committee and Baptists Today news journal -- are welcoming
congregational partners to develop creative ways to celebrate our treasured
freedoms and to provide support for those carrying out freedom-based
(1) Remind your church family that the freedom to worship, speak openly and access reliable information -- that cost our forebears deeply -- is essential to our way of life and faith, and must be preserved for future generations.
(2) Provide some method of support for the First Freedoms Project that undergirds the ongoing freedom-focused efforts of three national ministries.
Church leaders freely choose the ways in which to celebrate and support
freedom so that they fit each congregational setting. One idea for celebrating
freedom is to hold an annual First Freedoms Sunday, perhaps near the Fourth of
July or another holiday.
Baptists, The Bible, and the Poor: Charles E. Poole is a Baptist minister with Lifeshare Community Ministries in Jackson, Mississippi where he delights in ministering alongside the poor. "Chuck" Poole, a provocative preacher and servant pastor, served Baptist churches for twenty-five years. Among the churches he has served are First Baptist Church, Macon, GA, First Baptist Church, Washington, DC, and Northminster Baptist Church, Jackson, MS.
"A Whole New Way of Looking at the World"
By Charles E. Poole
There is a big, busy, urgent corner where the words of scripture intersect the realities of poverty. Working at that corner where scripture meets poverty are many fine people, some of whom are Baptists. One such Baptist is Tom Prevost, who serves as the national coordinator of Partners in Hope. Partners in Hope is the rural poverty initiative of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The work of Partners in Hope is focused on, though not limited to, the twenty poorest rural counties in the United States. Of those twenty poorest counties, seven are in Texas, four are in South Dakota, three are in Mississippi, two are in Kentucky, two are in Arkansas, one is in Alabama and one in Louisiana. It is important to note that Partners in Hope work is not limited to those twenty counties, because once the work began, it soon spread to adjacent counties, in some cases, and even adjacent states, in others.
That is where Partners in Hope is, but what does Partners in Hope do? Simply
put, Partners in Hope is dedicated to a short list of simple acts which seek to embody
God’s love alongside persons living in poverty. Here is the list: 1) Listening to those who
live in our nation’s twenty poorest counties, 2) Building relationships with, and
learning from, those who struggle in tough places and hard circumstances, 3) Walking
alongside our nation’s most-neglected people, as together we seek solutions to some of
the problems faced by those who live in poverty.
If this is the sort of service that seems to have your name on it, you can learn more at the CBF Website (www.thefellowship.info), or by calling Tom Prevost at 662-871-2444. However, before you click or call, be warned: to truly listen to, learn from, partner with and walk beside the poor is not so much to change the world as it is to have your world changed. It is like what happened to Peter when he went to Cornelius’ house. He went to do the converting, but came away himself a convert to a whole new way of looking at the world. (Acts 10:1-11:18) So, be warned, beware and be ready to be changed. If you become involved with Partners in Hope, you will likely learn more than you will teach, listen more than you will speak, and receive more than you will give.
That is what happens
when we linger on the big, busy corner where Baptists, the Bible, and the Poor
meet. We leave home to change the world, and come home with our world changed.
The Baptist Spirit
The Baptist Spirit:
Strengths and Challenges: Charles W.
Deweese, Executive Director-Treasurer of the Baptist History and Heritage
Society, writes this section of BSB. An articulate and passionate
Baptist, he identifies the historic Baptist Spirit in America.
By Charles W. Deweese
My list of the top five principles of Baptists for the past 400 years includes believer's baptism. Believer's baptism necessarily factors into discussions of the biblical basis of Baptists and of Baptist origins, identity, church membership requirements, regenerate church membership, church ordinances, statements of faith, church covenants, and other critical aspects of Baptist life.
Baptists worldwide baptize converts to Christ in streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, oceans, swimming pools, church buildings, and assorted other places where water can be collected. Baptists also baptize people in most age ranges, from preschoolers to senior citizens. Increasingly, Baptists have become rebaptizers, meaning that they will immerse people more than once on the claim that their original baptisms had no meaning.
Believer's baptism, as a Baptist ideal, has strong precedence in the New Testament. Adoption of believer's baptism led to the rise of Baptists in the 1600s as a definitive pronouncement against the futility of infant baptism in state churches. Simultaneously, it accented the urgency of a regenerate church membership.
Believer's baptism has been, is, and always will be a defining characteristic of Baptists who take seriously New Testament claims on their lives and on the integrity of the regenerate church. It was no accident that the first English Baptist confession of faith stated in 1611 "That Baptisme or washing with Water, is the outward manifestacion off dieing vnto sinn, and walking in newness off life. Romans. 6.2, 3, 4. And therefore in no wise apperteyneth to infants." Therefore, "everie Church is to receive in all their members by Baptisme vpon the Confession off their faith and sinnes wrought by the preaching off the Gospel, according to the primitive Institucion. Mat.28.19."
In Colonial America, to adopt believer's baptism could (and often did) result in persecution. Breaking from the state church with its insistence on infant baptism required intense resolve. It was not a matter to be taken lightly. Colonial Baptist views of and approaches to believer's baptism hold serious implications for the lighthearted, potentially compromising approaches of some churches today that baptize extremely young children and then rebaptize them when they are older because the initial experiences were meaningless. In addition, manipulative evangelism and church-growth-at-all-costs techniques can lead to the baptizing of youth and adults who may or may not be believers. All these activities negate the integrity of believer's baptism.
Believer's baptism characterizes Baptist life in other countries. By 1977, German-speaking Baptists in several European countries accepted a confession of faith that emphasized the following: "We baptize only those persons who on the basis of their personal faith ask for baptism and declare their intention with God's help to lead a life of obedience in discipleship to Jesus Christ."
The Baptist World Alliance is in the news a lot today. Remember this: believer's baptism is one of the essential common denominators among Baptists worldwide. Without such baptism, Baptists cease to be Baptists.
RESOURCE ON BELIEVER'S BAPTISM: The Baptist History and Heritage Society offers an excellent history-based pamphlet by William H. Brackney, Professor of Religion at Baylor University, titled "Doing Baptism Baptist Style: Believer's Baptism." You can secure copies by calling 800-966-2278 or by e-mailing Pam Durso at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: William L.
Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (rev. ed.; Valley Forge: Judson
Press, 1969), 120. G. Keith Parker, Baptists in Europe: History &
Confessions of Faith (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1982), 65-66.
What I've Learned in My First Year as a Baptist Female Pastor: The Reverend Natalie Nicholas Adams is pastor of Bannister Creek Baptist Church, Cumming, Georgia. She describes what she has learned in her first year as the senior pastor of a local Baptist church.
"Gender is Not the Issue"
By Natalie Nicholas Adams
I am a 43-year old, white female, married with two elementary age children. I am a graduate of a Southern Baptist college and seminary, and I have received a D.Min. degree from a Presbyterian seminary. My ministry experience includes 18 years of various church staff positions. Currently I am the Pastor/Church Planter of Bannister Creek Church, Cumming, Georgia, a church plant of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia.
This is what
I have learned in my first year as a Baptist female pastor:
Short preaching series are easier to prepare.
I prepare and present sermons that are appropriate for those who come.
I am not comfortable being called "Pastor," "Reverend" nor "Doctor." I prefer "Natalie."
It’s okay if female pastors bring their children along for visits, when appropriate.
I enjoy taking along food for folks I visit.
My gender is not an issue for almost everyone I meet.
I prefer to team lead.
I am slow to step outside of the theological norm.
QuickBooks Non-profit is the best accounting software for churches.
Things go more smoothly if I plan ahead.
To resist being a smothering pastor.
My children are becoming "preacher’s kids" in their behavior at church.
I enjoy and need the mental break from preparing and presenting a weekly message.
That it’s better to be reading all the time.
I enjoy encouraging folks to lead in various ministry opportunities.
To remind myself to be relevant – what is said on Sunday should be lived on Monday.
Sunday afternoons are meant for rest and 'crashing' if necessary.
To keep Saturday nights free.
That having a prayer team is a non-negotiable.
That the internet is incredible for sermon research.
To think and prepare in 3-D. We use Media Shout and utilize videos and DVDs as sermon aids and illustrations.
That I would not want to be doing this in my 20s or my 30s.
That I miss going away for the weekend or taking trips with my family.
That my husband and soul mate keeps me accountable and is my best support.
Personal story: When my husband and I went to "Boot Camp" to be trained as church planters a man in the seminar announced to the entire group that "if you are so busy out in the community, then who's home to cook your meals and keep up the house?" He meant it as an insult to me and my husband. The seminar leader rebuked the man, my husband turned around to the man in question sitting behind us and said, "I want to talk with you outside!"
It ended up that my husband didn’t need to "talk" to the man. As the day went on, the hundreds of other people at the conference made it their concern to "talk" to him, too!
I saw in my husband’s heart his support for my calling. I see it still everyday.
The Story of Primitive Baptists: John G. Crowley, a life-long Primitive Baptist with a Ph.D. in history from Florida State, is Professor of History at Valdosta State University and author of Primitive Baptists of the Wiregrass South, 1815 to Present.
"'Alien Immersion' Among Primitive Baptists"
By John G. Crowley
Butler's Hudibras satirized the Puritans as "a sect whose chief devotion lies in odd, perverse disputings," and so are their Baptist step-children, especially the "Hardshell" variety. The one issue on which the quarrelsome Baptists supposedly agree is the subject and mode of their distinguishing ordinance. Yet even here, the more precise brethren have found a fertile field for the odium theologicum.
In the 1780s, Silas Mercer of Georgia led a protest movement against the baptism of a preacher immersed by the Methodists, who subsequently joined the Baptists. By 1810, some Georgia Baptists based rejection of alien baptism on the "church succession" idea.
The Primitive Baptists declared the baptism of their Missionary opponents invalid by 1845. The Primitives claimed that high pressure "Missionary" evangelism gathered in "a bushel of chaff for every grain of wheat."
However, this trend soon became uncontrollable. Since any three Primitive Baptists will form four factions and excommunicate one another, their movement soon experienced divisions, with attendant questions about "official work" of excluded factions. If an association divided over whether Elder Clodpole of Buzzard Roost Church was in fact a closet drunkard, the Clodpoleites and Anti-Clodpoleites would as a matter of course refuse to receive any baptism, ordination or church constitution performed after the date of their division.
By 1950, approximately twenty mutually exclusive Primitive Baptist factions existed in South Georgia alone. Each faction tended to become a "Cave of Adullam" for all the others, and as ecclesiastical politics forced realignments of fellowship, individual and mass re-baptisms became a standard feature of Primitive Baptist Church life. One Elder's church migrated from one faction to another in the 1950s, with the result that he "went through the water" so many times that one wag suggested he wear a bathing suit to church.
By the 1990s, most Primitive factions, the Crawfordites excepted, had "let down their bars" against alien baptism, but "Missionary" baptism remained as "alien" as ever. Finally, last year, Mars Hill Church in Southeast Georgia voted to receive a member from the "Missionaries" without re-baptism. The expected spate of "withdrawals of fellowship" followed, but the association stood firm, and as of this writing, a Primitive Baptist church in central Florida is contemplating the reception of a "Sovereign Grace" Baptist without re-baptism. Unless the "Hardshells" have evolved beyond all recognition, the fireworks to follow will be highly diverting.
Dates to Note
August 31, 2004, Convocation at McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, GA, Speaker: Dr. Jimmy Allen.
September 9, 2004, "Church State Issues in the 2004 Election: A Morning Dialogue with Brent Walker," Religious Life Building, Mercer University, Macon, GA. Contact Shurden_WB@Mercer.edu.
September 26-28, 2004, The Mercer Preaching Consultation, The King and Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, GA. For details go to www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies and click "Conferences."
November 14-15, 2004, CBF of GA Fall Convocation at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, College Park GA.
27-31, 2005, Centennial Congress of the Baptist World Alliance,
Birmingham, England. To register email
Congress@bwanet.org , phone 703.790.8980, or
Baptist Myths: A New Pamphlet Series
A series of eleven pamphlets that address negative perceptions held towards Baptists in popular American culture. These pamphlets are suitable for individual study, church classes, and academic courses. They are jointly published by the Baptist History and Heritage Society, The Center for Baptist Studies of Mercer University, and the Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society. Editor: Doug Weaver; Associate Editors: Charles W. Deweese & Walter B. Shurden.
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