THE BAPTIST STUDIES BULLETIN
"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"
March 2004 Vol. 3 No. 3
Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
Walter B. Shurden, Executive Director and Editor, The 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||
Table of Contents:
I Believe . . . : by Walter B. Shurden
“Microscopic Baptist History”
The Baptist Soapbox: by Richard V. Pierard
“Southern Baptists and the Baptist World Alliance”
“Baptists in Ireland Today"
“If Only We Knew a Little Less about Jesus”
BSB Book Review Specials: by William H. Brackney
“The Importance of Pledge Controversy Lies Beyond the Courts”
The Baptist Spirit: Strengths and Challenges: by Charles Deweese
“Dimensions of Baptist Sacrifice”
Helpful Baptist Websites: by Greg Thompson
Baptist Books: by Bruce Gourley
Jarrett Burch’s Adiel Sherwood
BSB Special: By Chul Tim Chang
A Short History of Korean Churches in North America
“Microscopic Baptist History”
by Walter B. Shurden
I Believe . . .
that we understand history both microscopically and telescopically. We must see the individual cells as well as the great expanse. We must see the forest, to be sure, but we must also see the individual trees. One will never get the big picture of a forty acre field unless one has dug and plowed in the corners of that field.
I believe that one of the most urgent and neediest areas in Baptist history is that we learn to do serious, in-depth, scholarly work on local churches. That’s microscopic Baptist history! I once heard Barrie White, splendid church historian and effective Principal at Regent’s Park College of Oxford University, say that we would never really understand the Baptist story without getting serious about studying local churches, local associations, and local Baptist leaders. And that from the Principal of a college at Oxford University! I agree.
Local church histories, scientifically researched and artistically written (I can name only a few!), constitute serious and very helpful scholarship. We desperately need more of this kind of first-rate history. To have a good, current, local church history to place in the hands of people who are pondering joining one’s church is a marvelous gift for a possible newcomer. And such an exceedingly practical use of local church history says nothing at all about the importance of simply preserving the Baptist past for the Baptist future.
Some of you who are reading these lines can do the quality research and writing that microscopic Baptist history demands, and you would find great satisfaction in it. Get on it!
Some of you (especially minister types) who are reading these lines can use your influence to urge local churches to invest generously in microscopic Baptist history. Too often we lose the past or forget the past simply because we are not willing to pay for holding on to the past. Use your influence!
Some of you who are reading these lines are able financially to underwrite a local church history for your church. What a legacy and a gift for the future! Why not park some of your money on a spot you deeply care about?
Personally, I am still very interested in the great expanse of human history and Christian history, but as I age I find myself increasingly charmed and attracted by the Shurden history. Now that really is a teenie-weenie corner in the vast forty acre field! For a Shurden, however, it is not to be written off.
Microscopic Baptist history! Do some of it. Facilitate some of it. Pay for some of it.
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 Richard V. Pierard is Professor, Emeritus, of History, Indiana State University, and currently Scholar in Residence and Adjunct Professor, Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts. He is a member of the BWA’s Baptist Heritage and Identity Commission and general editor of the forthcoming centennial history of the BWA.
“Southern Baptists and the Baptist World Alliance”
By Richard V. Pierard
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s decision to break with the Baptist World Alliance is the latest move in the assault on the Baptist heritage. I would like to offer a few reflections on this regrettable action from a northern perspective. Although an outsider, I have always admired (and even envied) the SBC with its large churches, network of well-funded educational institutions, and global missionary enterprise. I saw the SBC as a rock of strength in contrast to my own denomination which, because of schisms earlier in the century, was severely reduced in size and influence and continues to be torn by dissension.
The SBC’s size and diversity was its great strength, but I detected a weakness as well. As one who considers himself a theologically conservative evangelical, I empathized at first with the concerns I heard expressed about the fuzzy theology of some Southern Baptist professors and the undermining of the uniqueness, inspiration, and authority of Holy Scripture by those who had drunk too deeply at the well of modern biblical criticism. I hated to see this mighty work of God suffer the same fate as Northern Baptists had, but when I found that the “reformers” had solidly aligned themselves with the New Christian Right, I knew that real trouble was brewing. What may have started as a genuine desire to uphold orthodoxy quickly degenerated into a political power struggle. The so-called “fundamentalists” had aligned themselves with the reactionary social conservatives elsewhere who had launched a thoroughgoing assault on individual liberties and the separation of church and state. Moreover, their friends advocated the assertion of American national power throughout the world, both in a military and an economic sense.
The reformers had become revolutionaries, and in a classic Leninist manner they developed and executed the strategy of a vanguard party. They carefully plotted to seize power in the denomination and then from the commanding heights to refashion the SBC into a conservative's paradise. It was a textbook case of “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as Lord Acton aptly put it. Anything that stood in the way was bulldozed. The Baptist Joint Committee and the Christian Life Commission would not compromise their beliefs on church-state separation or adopt the Reagan Republican social agenda, so the former was defunded and the latter made a mouthpiece for the new order. The European Baptists were next, with the financial rug pulled out from under the Rüschlikon seminary. The seminaries at home were placed under fundamentalist boards, and personnel who questioned the new order were purged.
The Baptist Faith and Message, a helpful catalogue of beliefs, was converted into a creed to which all workers in the SBC had to subscribe—even to the new additions that barred the ordained ministry to women and required submission of wives to their husbands—and those who refused were dismissed. Since the new revolutionary vanguard’s actions flew in the face of Baptist history, they buried the past by eliminating the Historical Commission.
In a good Stalinist manner, the dictatorial oligarchy now controlling the SBC also set out to isolate and destroy the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship because it rejects their agenda. Thus, the break with the Baptist World Alliance is a logical step in the consolidation of power. Since the SBC bosses could not intimidate Baptists in other unions and conventions, whether at home or abroad, the Executive Committee conjured up some specious reasons for leaving the BWA—“advocacy of positions contrary to the New Testament and Baptist doctrine,” “continued emphasis on women as pastors,” the emergence of a “decided anti-American tone” because some people criticized capitalism and U.S. foreign policy, and “the funding of questionable enterprises through Baptist World Aid.” The real reason went unmentioned—the BWA had accepted the CBF for membership. The SBC claims it will use the $450,000 formerly contributed to the BWA to set up its own international organization of “like-minded evangelicals.” The sad part of this story is that Southern Baptists had played a key role in the formation of the BWA in 1905, four of their leaders served as presidents, and many others occupied various positions in it. For the SBC to accuse the BWA of “liberalism” indicates just how little those now in charge know about the group’s history and current attitudes. The BWA today is probably more conservative theologically than at any time in its history.
The storm of protest was unprecedented. Never before had the SBC experienced such worldwide criticism of its behavior. Even its own Woman’s Missionary Association repudiated the action. However, I am sure that this condemnation will only feed the self-righteousness and martyr complex of the SBC leaders. Similar to suicide bombers in the Middle East, they are convinced that they are right, and their destruction of this “compromising” organization will bring God’s favor just like blowing up a bus full of Israelis allegedly pleases Allah. Although the churches docilely conform to the leadership’s demands and their messengers will rubber stamp the Executive Committee’s recommendation at the June convention, the situation abroad is much more problematic.
Whether SBC founded churches and conventions elsewhere will go along with the idea of an alternative world body remains to be seen. This is a tragic blow to Baptist unity and our global witness, but many observers feel that in the long run the BWA will be a stronger organization without the SBC. Only time will tell.
Emails From Baptists Around the World: An Email on Baptists in Ireland Today. George Morrison is the Hon. Secretary of the Southern Region Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland.
"Baptists in Ireland Today"
By George Morrison
As you will be aware Ireland is a divided country. However the indigenous Baptists are one! Our Association in the North, the traditionally Protestant area, numbers 90 churches and in the South, the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic area, we number 20. Numerically the Congregations are small–500 would be considered large here. There are also a number of predominantly American Baptist church planters, operating mainly in the South, with whom we have fellowship. They would number around 20, the majority of which would be house churches. There has been a decline in church attendance which has been masked by an infusion of immigrants, many of whom are Baptistic. The emergence of new churches has been accelerated by their presence and assimilation has been gradual into existing churches. The reasons for the decline in attendance are to be found in the postmodern mindset amongst youth and the disillusionment in the older people at the ever growing revelations of child abuse by the religious institutions. A media which is largely hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular creates the impression of a secular state, much of which is probably a reaction to the dominant role played by religion in former years. The absence of persecution and a general apathy, fed by a new found affluence, has also contributed to the decline. By and large the Baptists have bucked the trend. In the North there has been a maintaining of the ministry. In the South we have seen a modest expansion with a new church being founded or joining our Association annually over the last decade. An encouraging aspect has been the interest in training which is producing a few church planters for the future. Our Association has embarked on a policy of regionalisation which is focusing on empowering churches in a locality to combine where the local witness would benefit. In the South, where we have been less prominent in the rural areas, we have hired a marquee at the country’s largest three day agricultural show. This has given us many opportunities to witness and share hospitality with the farming fraternity. In Belfast churches have combined to hire an evangelist in an effort to arrest the decline in the city. And in Dublin the City Churches have taken a stall at the three day Mind Body Spirit Festival in order to engage with those who are attracted to the many types of spiritualities on offer. We have been relatively free from controversies but that does not mean that we are unaware of the activities of the cults, the numerous aberrations of the Gospel of grace and the notions of “Open Theism” which have traveled across the Atlantic. Our priority is to pray for revival. It is many years since this land was visited by God in a large measure. In the meantime we are grateful for His grace which enables us to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in freedom and perhaps your readers would join us in our prayers to this end.
|Baptists Bible and Poor||
Baptists, The Bible, and the Poor: Charles E. Poole is a Baptist minister with Lifeshare Community Ministries out of 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.
“If Only We Knew a Little Less about Jesus”
By Charles E. Poole
Recently I heard a television news-anchor close a program with a quote he attributed to Albert Schweitzer, “We can all find the Jesus we want because we know so little about him.” At first, I thought, “Wow, that’s beautiful.” But then I realized that, even if it was said by my hero Albert Schweitzer, it isn’t exactly so.
“We can all find the Jesus we want because we know so little about him” would seem to suggest that, lacking sufficient knowledge about who Jesus really was, we all get to re-create Jesus in whatever image suits us best. But, if we see the four gospels as trust-worthy sources of the words and works of Jesus, then we are not left to “make up Jesus” on our own. Indeed, to the contrary, we can’t have any Jesus we want precisely because we know too much about him.
Take, for instance, what we know about Jesus and the poor. If we hold the gospels to be trustworthy, we know that Jesus said such things as: “Give to everyone who begs from you” (Matthew 5:42). "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor… Then come follow me”(Matthew19: 21). “I was hungry and you fed me , thirsty and you gave me something to drink, naked and you clothed me, sick and in prison and you visited me… Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:35-40). “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18). “Sell your possessions and give aid to the poor” (Luke 12:33). “When you give a banquet invite the poor” (Luke 14:13).
If we assume the gospels to be trustworthy sources of Jesus’ words, then our problem is not that we know too little about Jesus. Our problem is that we know too much, and too much of what we know about Jesus does not fit with our politics, our economics and our vision of how the world works best. (Take, for example, Luke 14:33, “ None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” or Luke 6:35, “ Love your enemies, do good expecting nothing in return, and lend expecting nothing in return.”)
Of course, we can find our way around all that by individualizing the Bible. We Baptists are big on individualism. We sometimes say that each individual has to read those hard passages and arrive at his (or her) own interpretation. Maybe. But the gospels were not written to individuals. They were written to communities of faith… churches. That’s harder. That means the New Testament is the church’s book before it is any individual’s book. That’s why I tell my wealthy friends they have nothing to fear from a verse such as Mark 10:21, “Go sell what you own and give the money to the poor.” After all, Mark is the church’s book to obey first and until the church obeys Mark 10:21, how can the church call for individuals to obey it?
Our problem is not that we know too little about Jesus. Our problem is that we know too much about Jesus, and too much of what we know sounds as radical inside the church as it does outside the church. This is an odd thing, especially for Baptists who talk so much about Jesus: What Jesus said about money and poverty sounds as radical on our ears as it does on the ears of those who do not claim to follow Jesus. (“If only we knew a little less about Jesus!”)
|BSB Book Review||
BSB BOOK REVIEW SPECIAL: This month the BSB highlights E. Brooks Holifield, Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 617 pp. hardcover. $35.00. The reviewer is William H. Brackney, one of Baptists’ best readers of the Baptist past. Dr. Brackney, Director of the Baptist Studies Program and a professor in the Religion Department at Baylor University, has a forthcoming book on the history of Baptist theology from Mercer University Press.
Labeled “magisterial,” a “masterpiece,” “massively researched and elegantly crafted,” this impressive book has achieved a place for years to come in discussions of early American Christian thought. Its author is the well-known Candler Professor of Church History at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, a former president of the American Society of Church History and protégé of Yale historian Sidney Ahlstrom. The expectations are thus very high.
The organizing principle of this work is an interweaving of primary themes of Reformed thought and Baconian evidentialism trimmed in denominational/institutional borders as the period reaches its apex. To round out his mainstream, Holifield delineates what he calls “populist religion” and here includes a variety of groups and thinkers like Baptists, Christians, African Americans, Shakers, and Mormons.
The major thrust of this review is to make some assessment of the book’s use for Baptist concerns and students. The preface indicates that the author relied on the good offices of two southern Baptists and one wonders whom else? The author himself is not a Baptist and that is evident in how he understands the tradition and the details he employs. From his text and his quoted sources, Holifield has a southern predisposition toward Baptists that does not serve him most effectively in this period. Principal among his theologians are John Leland, J. L. Dagg, Jesse Mercer, Patrick H. Mell, James Reynolds, and R. B. C. Howell, a list that looks very similar to his “gentleman” southern theologians of his earlier work.
Holifield’s other than baptistic orientation is most evident in some significant misstatements and details. In discussing the origins of Baptists he tells the story of John Smyth (fl.1606) who in recent monographs is seen as spending little theological time as a Baptist, and yet he is silent on Thomas Helwys who actually laid the foundation of the General Baptists. An attempt to connect the seventeenth century English Muggletonians with nineteenth century Daniel Parker of Illinois is speculative at best. To say that Andrew Fuller reversed himself from being a high Calvinist is not to account for the second edition of Fuller’s Gospel Worthy (1801). While Holifield’s recovery of Benjamin Randal is useful, there was no “Freewill Baptist Church.” This term was not used among the Connexion for important reasons. The school in Newton, Massachusetts is referred to as “Seminary;” but its proper name was Newton Theological Institution. Holifield seems to extol the virtues of Jonathan Maxcy in South Carolina, unaware that Maxcy was the pariah at Brown University who drew the wrath of important pastors like Isaac Backus (by the way, was Backus a “pre-populist” theologian?). Perhaps most alarming is his designation of John Jasper as a Methodist exhorter. I have searched in several sources and find no such character in Methodism. Could this be the famous Baptist preacher from Virginia from whom William Hatcher recorded the sermon, “The Sun Do Move?”
Readers who want the face of Baptists to be primarily classically Calvinistic, will be drawn to Holifield’s account of Baptists as “an extended discussion of Calvinism.” However, there are problems here. To include Roger Williams and John Clarke in this caste is overspeak that no previous Baptist writer would utter. Neither is accurately described. Holifield is so given to his Calvinistic categories that he gives little-to-no place to other forms in the tradition. His four categories bear little resemblance to earlier typologies of Haroutunian or Foster and, with respect to shades of “Edwardeanism,” are not entirely persuasive. Probably the biggest cavern in this treatment is the total neglect of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, important in its own right because it reflected a multi-faceted trend away from old Calvinism, and, of course, for its portending the theological future of mainstream conservative evangelical Baptists of the next century and a half. Holifield’s lodgepole, the Philadelphia Confession, did not materially survive the eighteenth century and was arguably bypassed among enduring Calvinists by expressions like the Kehukee and Black Rock statements. Finally, in a separate chapter on Black theology, Baptists are again swept into a Calvinist bin, by reference to George Liele who was doubtless later influenced toward Calvinism in Jamaica by English Baptists. The rootage of a creative Black pattern of thought that reaches to the future as evidenced in Thomas Paul or John Jasper or slave songs and narratives is absent from this analysis.
Because Holifield thinks denominationalism is the primary setting for most theological writing in the antebellum period, the treatment of Baptist contributions is disappointing. It was in this period that Baptist thought began to come of age. Professional scholastic theologians emerged in each region of Baptist life, a strong unique tradition of schools developed, and Baptists in the United States cut loose much of their dependence upon their British Baptist ancestors. It was an era of Irah Chase, Nathaniel Kendrick, Barnas Sears, Francis Wayland (in a different context than presented here), Ebenezer Dodge and Ezekiel Gilman Robinson. These Baptists and others looked not to Anglo-American Calvinism, but to other Protestants, German thinkers, and new developments in New England. Perhaps even more significantly a uniquely Baptist system of higher education came about in this period meeting the diverse needs of those with little formal education, those who sought collegiate arts with bible majors or missionary training, and formal, specialized post-undergraduate theological seminaries. This reviewer agrees with Professor Holifield’s presupposition that the antebellum era was formative, but the book is yet to appear that does justice to the full Baptist story and contribution as exemplars if the Free Church tradition in that period.
|Church And State||
Baptists in America and Church State Issues: a column on hot button issues related to religion and government written by K. Hollyn Hollman, General Counsel, The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.
“The Importance of Pledge Controversy Lies Beyond the Courts”
By K. Hollyn Hollman
When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that it was unconstitutional to require California public school teachers to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance, it set off a firestorm. Many governmental officials, commentators and even a U.S. Supreme Court justice condemned the decision, some quickly dismissing it as “ridiculous.” While I understood that reaction—after all, the timing and outcome of the decision were a surprise—a closer look at the court’s opinion led me to view the controversy more charitably.
The questions raised by this controversy include the following: Should the words “under God,” added to the Pledge in 1954, be singled out for constitutional analysis or should the Court focus on the overall message of the Pledge, with its largely patriotic content? Did the addition of the words “under God” change the nature of the Pledge? Is the Pledge, with its reference to God, an affirmation of a faith statement similar to a prayer, or is it simply a civic ritual to promote patriotism? Does the fact that it is led by a representative of the state (a public school teacher) demonstrate an unlawful endorsement of religion by the government, even though students can opt out?
The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous briefs have been filed arguing for and against the policy of teacher-led pledge recitations in the public schools. The variety of interests represented governmental, educational, religious—and the difficulty of these underlying questions make it an interesting legal case.
Despite the difficulty of some of the legal issues raised, there are ample arguments that support a finding that the policy at issue is constitutional. The Court has previously noted that the Pledge is like other references to religion in our civil traditions that do not really raise religious objections. That idea is troubling from another perspective.
There are theological and ethical reasons to be concerned with governmental use of God’s name as part of a patriotic exercise. While civil religion in its various forms has long been a pervasive part of American political culture, it can become a kind of idolatry of nationalism. The overuse of religious language or imagery in patriotic exercises can also trivialize religion. It is legitimate for people of faith to question government’s purposes and practices when it uses religion for political or patriotic purposes.
A review of the rationale supporting the constitutionality of mandatory Pledge policies demonstrates the reasons why. One of the traditional legal justifications for upholding religious references in our civil discourse is that civil religion or “ceremonial deism,” as it is sometimes called, is not like authentic faith. It serves no real religious purpose. Through long use and rote repetition, religious words used for civic purposes tend to lose their religious import. What is commonplace becomes mundane.
While the Court must decide the case based upon the legal arguments presented, people of faith should be mindful of what they may lose by treating references to God as simply part of a patriotic act. Baptists have much more to gain by emphasizing authentic faith, not the watered-down civil religion that can more readily meet constitutional standards. The vitality of religion in America is more likely diminished than enhanced when we conflate our penultimate allegiance to Caesar with our ultimate allegiance to God.
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. He identifies the
Baptist Spirit in America.
“Dimensions of Baptist Sacrifice”
By Charles W. Deweese
Sacrifice defines the concept of yielding oneself to God and/or a cause regardless of the consequences. For almost 400 years, Baptist history has provided powerful demonstrations of this spirit. As recently as February 2004, Denton Lotz, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, issued a story on the BWA Web site (bwanet.org) titled "Another Baptist Martyr!" Sergey Bessarab of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, who regularly involved himself in prison ministry, had just been murdered. "Bessarab lay in a puddle of blood after four bullets took his life as he was praying. The final picture remembered by those who found him was an open Bible, a song book, and a blood-stained guitar."
Sacrifice can be physical. Consider the torture applied to Thomas Helwys, the first Baptist pastor in England, who was jailed for his views of church and state and died in that prison in the early 1600s. Or what about Colonial Baptist leader Obadiah Holmes who was jailed in Massachusetts in the early 1650s and later whipped with 30 lashes across his back? When the punishment was over, he said to the magistrates: "You have struck me as with roses." Or what about the murder of missionary Bill Wallace in China in the 1950s?
Sacrifice can take the shape of job losses, emotional pain, mental anguish, and spiritual frustration. Since 1979, Southern Baptist fundamentalism has honed to a fine art the application of pain to seminary professors, missionaries, and agency employees who have disagreed with its agenda. It has turned against women in ministry even though God calls them and churches ordain them to the ministry. And now it proposes to exact a heavy toll on Baptists throughout the world by defunding the Baptist World Alliance.
What causes some Baptists to sacrifice other Baptists? Typically, Baptist intimidators who wreak damage on other Baptists do so in the name of religious progress; actually, a separationist mentality often motivates that process. Fundamentalism, for example, instructs all subscribers to compromise their individuality on the altar of conformity; that expectation is based on preset standards of a hypocritical, know-it-all piety.
Oddly, regardless of the shape sacrifice takes in Baptist life, those who are sacrificed have a way of rising to the top. Though whipped, imprisoned, exiled, murdered, and violated in every imaginable way, Baptists who suffer on account of their faith resurrect the freedom impulse time and again. People like Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson, and Morris Chapman can claim victory after victory in the petty battles of fundamentalism, but the thousands of good and righteous Baptists whom they have harmed along the way represent the true tradition of biblically based Baptists. Freedom-denouncing Baptists stand at the foot of the crosses of the real Baptists whom they, ironically, drive to the top of the Baptist tradition.
Helpful Web Sites for Baptist Studies
by Greg Thompson
Site of the Month: Mainstream Baptists
The Mainstream Baptists organization has harnessed the popular interest among Baptist laity to reclaim and preserve our Baptist identity. This home page has extensive resources related to hot issues in Baptist life. It does not hesitate to "hit hard and often" on the fallaciousness of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, the defense of women in ministry, the heresy of inerrancy, and other critical Baptist "debates." This site has excellent printable pamphlets, essays and sermons by prominent Baptists. Bookmark it !!!!
Baptist Books: brief book notes written by Bruce Gourley, a former campus minister, author of The Godmakers, the present Online Editor of Baptists Today, and a Ph.D. student in Southern History, Auburn University.
Jarrett Burch, Adiel Sherwood: Baptist Antebellum Pioneer in Georgia (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2003), 270 Pp.
Georgia Baptists will find this new volume to be a true gem. Adiel Sherwood, only vaguely known by historians until now, has been “discovered” by Jarrett Burch, a Baptist pastor and Georgia historian, who shares with us the remarkable story of an important, albeit relatively obscure, Baptist pioneer. Drawing from Sherwood’s Memoirs and other writings, Burch portrays this early Baptist figure as instrumental in the shaping of the Georgia Baptist Convention, to the point of vying with Jesse Mercer in prominence.
Although primarily focusing on Georgia, Burch traces Sherwood, who was born in New York, as he moves back and forth between the North, South, and Midwest in the nineteenth century. His life and travels intersected with the lives of a number of other notable Baptists, including John Mason Peck, Luther Rice, and Jesse Mercer. In addition, his travels led to an encounter with Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who asked Sherwood to preach to his congregation, an invitation which the Baptist preacher politely declined.
Wherever he moved, Sherwood assumed leadership roles in Baptist life. His list of accomplishments is of near-epic proportion: president of three colleges in three states; professor at two other colleges, including Mercer (earlier, Sherwood’s educational efforts in Georgia helped pave the way for the creation of Mercer University); early leader of Sunday School, temperance, mission, and state denominational efforts in Georgia; key figure of the Georgia revival of 1827; extensive writer (much of his writing as a Georgia Baptist was done under various pseudo names); historian; and pastor of many churches in central Georgia and beyond. Perhaps his most enduring legacy was in helping shape the Georgia Baptist Convention into a missionary entity at a time when anti-mission forces were exerting significant influence among Georgia Baptists.
In addition to tracing Sherwood’s career as a denominational servant, Burch presents him as a champion of Baptist theology, ardently defending believer’s baptism by immersion and religious liberty. Burch finds an inherent tension within Sherwood’s multi-dimensional roles, arguing that the tireless Baptist leader, in turning to denominational structures to promote missions and evangelism, “unintentionally...strengthened polity at the expense of doctrine” by helping to eliminate “the traditional role of doctrinal oversight found in eighteenth-century American Baptist associations” (115-116).
In short, although the blending of chronological and thematic history is awkward in places, Adiel Sherwood is otherwise well-written, and is a very important contribution to the historiography of early Georgia Baptist life and recognizes an important Georgia Baptist.
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.
BSB SPECIAL: By Chul Tim Chang
“A Short History of Korean Churches in North America”
Baptists established the first Korean Baptist congregation in the United States in 1956. Today, the Korean ethnic churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) constitute the largest among all Korean denominations in the United States.
The First Korean Ethnic Church
Kim Chang-Soon, sponsored by Anglo Baptist church leaders to promote Baptist work among Koreans, organized and led the first Korean ethnic Baptist congregation in Washington D.C. The church held its first worship service on May 6, 1956, and took the name "First Korean Baptist Church in the USA." A month later the church invited Kang Wong-Yong, a student from Union Theological Seminary in New York, to serve as the first senior pastor. In March 1958, Ahn Byung-Kook became the second senior pastor. But after one year, a division took place between Ahn and Kim Chang-Soon and Ahn left and formed a separate church. After a year and half, the two groups reunited under Ahn's leadership and changed the church name to "The Washington Korean Baptist Church." By 1970, there were about thirty to forty adult members.
The Second Korean Baptist Church
Don Kim and Esther Ahn Kim, appointed as home missionaries by the SBC North America Mission Board while students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, founded the second Korean Baptist congregation in the United States. On March 10, 1957, they began a "mission" in their apartment in Los Angeles. Their vision and structure of ministry was unique, having "some twenty nations" in the church. Its membership included international students from China, South America, Canada, England, Germany, Africa, and other countries, and also non-Korean members from the local community: Hawaiian Japaneses, Native Americans, Filipinos, Mexicans, and Anglos. As early as 1963, the church had baptized 190 people and had 226 members.
The Largest Korean Denomination
In 1971, Daniel Moon established the third Korean Baptist congregation in the United States in San Jose, California. By the late 1980s, the Korean Baptist churches, affiliated with the SBC, became the largest Korean denomination in the United States. From 1990 to 2001, the church directory of the Council of North America Korean Southern Baptist Churches listed the following number of churches.
THE KOREAN BAPTIST CHURCH FROM 1990-2001
(Source: Council of North America Korean Southern Baptist Churches Directory)
One may give ten reasons for the growth of SBC Korean Baptist churches in the past thirty years. Those reasons are as follows: (1) Berendo Street Church acting as a "mother church," (2) Daniel Moon's work as a North America Mission Board missionary, (3) conservative theology and low tuition of attending one of the Southern Baptist seminaries, (4) the North America Mission Board's financial support of Korean ethnic pastors, (5) the Baptist polity of local church autonomy, (6) the expedient process of ordination, (7) the support of SBC state conventions, associations, and local churches, (8) the shift of SBC's position on race relations in the early 1970s, (9) the change of attitude toward Baptist denomination in South Korea, and (10) the tireless sacrifice of many lay and clergy ethnic Korean Baptist workers.
Theology of Hope—Forty Years Later
Jürgen Moltmann’s A Theology of Hope (Harper & Row, 1975) will be revisited at Candler School of Theology, May 6-7, 2004. Prof. Moltmann will lecture twice. Douglas Meeks of Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Miroslav Volf of Yale University Divinity School will join Moltmann during the two-day event. Candler professors Nancy Eiesland, Robert Franklin, and Ted Runyon, will speak also. Program information is available at <http://candler.emory.edu/ABOUT/events.html>
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