"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"

October 2004                 Vol. 3  No. 10

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

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:


I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "Preachers Lead"

The Baptist Soapbox: Denton Lotz

         "The Wearing of Religious Symbols as a Religious Freedom Issue in Europe"

Baptists, the Bible, and the Poor: Charles E. Poole

         "Jesus: Headed in the Other Direction"

The Baptist Spirit: Strengths and Challenges: Charles W. Deweese

         "The Local Church"

What I Learned in My First Year as a Baptist Female Pastor: Bonnie Decuir
"Some Practical Lessons"

BSB Book Reviews:  Fundamentalism, by Fisher Humphreys and Philip Wise

         Review by Richard F. Wilson

         A Piety Above the Common Standard: Jesse Mercer and the Defense of Evangelistic
         Calvinism, by Anthony L. Chute

         Review by Daryl Black

The Story of Primitive Baptists: John G. Crowley
"The Antimissionary Missionaries"

Dates to Note: Upcoming Events


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"Preachers Lead"

By Walter B. Shurden


I believe . . .

that moderate Baptists have a bias against leadership. I think I see this bias expressed both in our denominational movements and in our local churches. Of course, much of this bias against leadership is an understandable reaction to dictatorial fundamentalism, especially pastoral authoritarianism.

Some moderate Baptists, however, appear to believe that the peculiar genius of our Baptist system does not demand leaders. Indeed, I hope that much of that mistaken belief has not come from our necessary and correct emphasis on "The Priesthood of ALL Believers." I believe in that Lutheran legacy to Baptists with all my heart. But the “The Priesthood of ALL Believers” has never meant the elimination of “The Leadership of SOME Believers.” Universal Priesthood does not equal Universal Leadership. In the Baptist vision of church and ministry, all leaders should be priests; all priests, however, are not leaders.

Gary Wills, one of the important voices in American life, wrote a book on leadership and provided this definition of leadership: "The leader is one who mobilizes others toward a goal shared by leader and followers." Wills says the problem with most definitions of leadership is that they are unitarian, focusing on the leader alone. Truth is, says Wills, leadership is trinitarian, resting on the tripod of leader, followers, and goals.
If I understand at least part of Wills' intention, he wants us to understand that real leaders must first stand with a group and among a group and within a group in order to lead that group. Surely he is correct. No Baptist pastor that I know needs a lesson in the necessity of leading from within. But I quibble with Wills just a bit. Leaders do not simply mobilize followers toward goals already shared. Rather, leaders envision goals not yet shared or even imagined. Sure, you want to know where "they" want to go, what “they” want to do, and how “they” want to do it. Sure, you want to listen and be attentive to the past and history and traditions of the church you serve. But the church also needs you to help them see the future of the church, not simply to echo the past or even to echo the majority of the current membership. The knot in the string, of course, is “HOW?” to lead.

            We are determined at Mercer not to be intimidated by hurricanes. We had to cancel our MERCER PREACHING CONSULTATION ’04, scheduled for September 26-28 at St. Simons Island, because of hurricane Jeanne. We had reached our maximum enrollment of 200! We have, therefore, regrouped and rescheduled the CONSULTATION for November 21-23 at St. Simons Island, GA. All except one of our agreed-upon speakers will be on hand. Two of our speakers, Truett Gannon, longtime Georgia pastor and now professor at McAfee School of Theology, and Bill Wilson, the talented pastor of First Baptist Church in Dalton, Georgia, will brush up against the theme of pastoral leadership.  Truett Gannon is going to speak on “An Organization Must Have a Pastor If It Wants To Be a Church.” Makes good sense to me! Bill Wilson will speak on “Leading for Change Without Alienating.” What Baptist pastor or layperson would not want to hear that one? View the entire program on our website at Better still, make sure you are registered by calling Sharon Lim at 404.886.8608 and join us for a feast of thinking about preaching, pastoring and leading. They also lead who preach.

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Baptist Soapbox

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. Denton Lotz, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance.


"The Wearing of Religious Symbols as a Religious Freedom Issue in Europe"

By Denton Lotz


            Is the denial of the right to wear a headscarf, a yarmulke, or a large cross a denial of religious freedom? Is the denial to celebrate religious symbols such as the Ten Commandments, a crèche, or candelabra on public property a denial of religious freedom? These are emotional issues confronting the countries of the European Union. For Muslims, the wearing of the headscarf is an especially emotional issue.  Yet, despite the publicity given to Frances prohibition of Muslim teachers and students from wearing headscarves as a religious symbol, Turkey, a country in which 98% of the citizens are Muslims, has for decades prohibited teachers and government workers from wearing headscarves.

           Western European countries have criticized Turkey because of its restrictive policies on religious freedom, particularly in the areas of human rights and religious freedom of minorities in terms of the right to own property, obtain visas for foreign priests, etc.  However, some Muslims feel that this Western perspective of defending minority rights fails to consider the majority perspective.

           For twenty years Turkey has been trying to become a member of the European Union. Recent studies of the European Union and a Statement of Concern by the Protestant Bishops of Germany concentrate on their contention that the minority rights of Christians are being denied, e.g. their denial to open theological schools, purchase property, visa restrictions on foreign religious leaders, the appointment of pastors and the right to have open religious worship services or to evangelize.

           From a Western perspective the denial of such rights is indeed a denial of religious freedom. Denial of such rights for minority religious groups restricts the free exercise of religion. Baptists around the world are a minority and thus suffer from many such restrictions. However, are we aware of other restrictions on the majority religion? During a recent visit to Turkey I read an editorial in the Turkish newspaper emphasizing majority religious freedom issues. This article maintained the following:

           “None of the reports (Western European) said anything about the closure of Muslim foundations and the seizure of their properties that have taken place over the last five years. The headscarf ban that prevents many women from leading active lives was also one of the issues that never made it into any of the reports. State control over religious education, the limitations imposed upon the graduates of imam-hatip high schools and limitations on freedom of expression of Muslims were among the issues that failed to be mentioned. Ignoring the problems faced by the Muslim majority of Turkey, while concentrating on the Christian minorities, is an evident discrimination by the European Union.

           This debate in the Muslim world about headscarves is similar to the American conflict about crèches and Christian symbols in public places. It comes as a surprise to many in the West that Turkey, since the revolution of Attaturk in 1921 declared itself a secular state, controls the Muslim religion very much. There are severe restrictions on Islam, despite the majority Muslim population. Of the 98% Muslims, perhaps 35% would be faithful attendees at the local mosquea greater percentage than Western Europe but less than the 42% of Christians attending church services in the USA!

           Depending on ones perspective as a religious minority or a religious majority one will usually have a different view of what religious freedom entails. Therefore, one of the great contributions of Baptists to world history is our early defense of religious freedom for all religions and our defense of the separation of church (religion) and state.

           How the European Union and the rest of the world settle this question will have grave  consequences for a world already experiencing a clash of civilizations and the consequent religious wars and prejudice that ensues. Need we mention Chechnya and Russia, Israel and Palestine, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serbia and Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, North Ireland all areas of conflict due to religious wars?

           As a Baptist, I still believe our concept of strict separation is the best way to bring harmony and peace in this ever-growing conflict between religions. Majority and minority rights must be fair, equal and complementary. The Western concept of religious freedom is a threat to all totalitarian countries which use religion to control the state. Certainly we must defend the construction of places of worship as a religious freedom. Western European cities are dotted with mosques next to cathedrals. In Washington, D.C. thirty years ago there were only several mosques. Today there are thirty-nine. Presently there are no Christian places o f worship allowed in Saudi Arabia, Americas closest Arabic ally in the Middle East!

           While in Turkey, I worshipped with Baptists and am pleased to report that we now have our first Baptist church in Turkey, in the city of Izmir, the biblical Smyrna.  The origin of this Baptist church is in itself a beautiful story of amazing grace and of the growing religious freedom in Turkey. (Check the BWA webpage: for further information.)

           Lets recover our Baptist history and defend the religious rights of all peoples, the majority and the minority! In so doing we will guarantee our own freedom. The Baptist professor, E.Y. Mullins, once said that where religious freedom is denied, all other freedoms are under threat!

           In conclusion, on my own personal belief, Yes! I believe Muslim women should have the right to wear headscarves and Christians the right to carry Bibles and wear crosses, and Jews the right to wear Yarmulkes in school!


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Bible and Poor

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.


"Jesus: Headed in the Other Direction"
By Charles E. Poole

            I’ve spent the last several years trying to figure out how we got this way.  How did the church, in general, and Baptists, in particular, ever become so captured by consumerism, materialism and institutional protectionism?  How did we get from a Jesus who said, “I have come to bring good news to the poor” (Luke 4:16) to churches that long to relocate to neighborhoods that are too far for the car-less poor to get to?  How did we get from a Jesus who said, “Sell your possessions, give the proceeds to the poor” (Luke 12:33) to churches that expend millions on acquiring and accumulating? How did we get from a Jesus who sent his disciples out with instructions to travel light (no purse, no bag, no extra sandals) (Luke 10:4) to churches that can’t imagine existing without “operating reserve funds?”

            How did we get this way?  Needless to say, many fine Christians would say that all this accumulation and acquisition is a good thing.  They would decry the suggestion that we need to work our way back to the Jesus of the gospels, and instead would affirm the power and possessions of the institutional church as a sign of “church growth.”  Their answer to the “How did we get this way?” question would be that we got this way by aggressively following Jesus.  I want to give that view its due, but the problem with it is that the last time we saw Jesus he was headed in the other direction, away from consumerism, materialism and institutional protectionism.

            I don’t have the answer to the “How did we get this way?” question. I have a hunch that we took a wrong turn in the fourth century while Constantine was driving the church bus, and we’ve never gotten back on course.  But I also know that nothing, especially nothing like this, is ever that simple. 

            Please don’t mis-hear my lament.  I’m not down on the church.  I love the church. I need the church.  I couldn’t keep going in life without the church.  And I owe the church many, many things, one of which is careful, truthful speech when it comes to the distance between the Jesus of the gospels and the North American church.  So, while I do not have the answer to the “How did we get this way?” question, I do have a modest proposal for a small step in the direction of careful speech:  The next time you see a church with impressive facilities and beautiful buildings, refrain from saying, “My, how the Lord has blessed them,” because while the Lord may have blessed them with all those possessions, it is also possible that the Lord may be longing for them to sell those possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor.

            (The fact that the above italicized sentence sounds so radical and ridiculous may be a good indicator of how far we are from the words and ways of our only Lord.  At the very least, it is an indicator that preacher folk, like myself, have not done a very good job of inviting people to consider the possibility that Luke 12:33 might actually mean something for the church.)

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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.

"The Local Church"

By Charles W. Deweese


           On March 6, 1927, First Baptist Church, Asheville, North Carolina, dedicated the sanctuary in which the congregation continues to worship today. More than 2,000 people attended the dedication, that included a walk from the old church building to the new. Accompanied by its new organ, the church sang the hymn of dedication, "The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord." Dr. E. Y. Mullins, noted Baptist theologian, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Baptist World Alliance, read Ephesians 4:1-16, a powerful description of the biblical meaning of church.

           Then the church's pastor, Dr. R. J. Bateman, formally presented the church to the public: "In presenting this church to the public, we ask to lay our services and ourselves afresh on the altar of Christ for the benefit of this great community in which we dwell. We want to lay our hearts, our affections, our energies as the feet of this community to serve you through Jesus Christ."
           Dr. Bateman then introduced Dr. Mullins as "the best known Baptist of all the world." Mullins gave the dedicatory sermon titled "The Church of the Living God," based on 1 Timothy 3:15.

           Baptists of the world love church. A strong sense of congregationalism causes them to worship, unites them in fellowship, and incites them into discipleship. In fact, when Baptists emerged into human history in Amsterdam in 1609, one of the first things they did was to form themselves into a church. That year, two members of that congregation, Hughe and Anne Bromehead, sent a letter to a relative in London. That letter was the first (and now the oldest) written description of a Baptist worship service. It begins with these words: "The order of the worship and government of our church is. . . ." Then it describes how the church prayed, read and commented on the Bible, collected an offering for the poor, and conducted church business.

            Baptists worldwide gather as communities of believers in open fields; in huts and houses; in one-room buildings in the country; in small, medium, and large buildings in urban and suburban areas; and even in civic-center size buildings. Cutting across diverse history, theology, polity, geography, socioeconomic status, ethnic differences, and international barriers, Baptists find meaning in church week by week.

            The local church today faces phenomenal pressures: declines in the regenerate nature of the church; potential violations of local-church autonomy by denominational power surges and confessional control; out-of-control church-growth models that define a church's meaning and value by numerical calculations rather than by how well it worships, fellowships, and engages in ministry; a secularistic society hell-bent on convincing consumers to drink deeply from the wells of gambling, pornography, and a wide array of other addictions and ethical compromises; and the increasing competition of alluring Sunday-based (and for Seventh Day Baptists, Saturday-based) sporting events, TV enticements, and sales at the mall.

            Baptists in Colonial America often suffered severely at the hands of the state church just because they tried to form their own free churches. In 1665, the First Baptist Church of Boston adopted the earliest Baptist confession of faith in America. After asserting that "the church being gathered mett with great opposition from the government of the place," the confession boldly declared a wide range of Baptist principles relating to church including the claim, "wee believe Christ is the foundation laid by the father." 

            "The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord." Baptists of the world, sing it again. Sing it at church. Sing it at home. Sing it in Vacation Bible School, at youth camp, at weddings, and at funerals. Wherever church takes place, one factor must always rise to the top: Jesus Christ is Lord. The Bible supports it. Baptist history and principles rest upon it. The Baptist future hangs on it.

Sources: Charles W. Deweese, The Power of Freedom: First Baptist Church, Asheville, North Carolina, 1829-1997 (Franklin, TN: Providence House Publishing, 1997); Walter H. Burgess, John Smith the Se-Baptist (London: James Clarke & Co., 1911); H. Leon McBeth, A Sourcebook of Baptist Heritage (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990).

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The Mercer Preaching Consultation '04
has been rescheduled

St. Simons Island, King and Prince Hotel
DATE:  November 21-23, 2004

To register for The Mercer Preaching Consultation, send check ($50 per person with spouse attending for an additional $25) made payable to "McAfee School of Theology," marked "For 2004 Preaching Consultation," to Sharon Lim, Mercer University, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta, GA 30341-4115.

(There is no registration form. Your letter and check will suffice.)

To register at the King and Prince, call 800-342-0212 and request reservations for The Mercer Preaching Conference. A credit card will be needed to reserve the room. There will be a choice of rooms, oceanfront or not.


What I  Learned in My First Year as a Baptist Female Pastor: The Reverend Bonnie Decuir is pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Edison, Georgia, and is a graduate of Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond.  She describes what she learned in her first year as the senior pastor of a local Baptist church.

"Some Practical Lessons"

By Bonnie Decuir


Some things I learned, and wish to share, from my first year as a Baptist pastor who happens to be female:


  • It is not my calling to justify my gender, title or denomination.


  • Do not isolate yourself!
    • Find – or create – ministry alliances within the community.
    • Participate in denominational, special interest and professional associations outside the immediate area.


  • Utilize local media to announce church activities learn how to write a news release!


  • Take self-care seriously!
    • It is easier if you program it into your schedule from the start.
    • Establish office hours and stick with them as much as possible – otherwise you may tend to work all the time!
    • Watch for opportunities in which you can worship and be fed.
    • Thank your congregation for their understanding of your need for time away to recharge.


  • Your congregation wants you to succeed – let them help!


  • Learn about the local government, economics, services, businesses, organizations and leaders. Network!


  • Read a wide range of material.
    • Read professional literature, biographies, fiction, bestsellers, news and personal interest.
    • Subscribe to a few GOOD publications that will keep you up-to-date, as well as stretch and challenge your intellect and theology (e.g., Baptists Today, The Christian Century).


  • Make effective use of the internet
    • Find useful resources for Bible study, research and worship preparation.
    • Compare prices of books and curriculum.
    • Subscribe to internet newsletters from your favorite organizations (e.g., The Mercer University Center for Baptist Studies, The Alban Institute).


  • Focus on your strengths; find people to balance your weaknesses.


  • A small church is NOT just a bigger church scaled down!! 
    • Each congregation and its needs are unique.
    • Learn about the church's history, habits and hopes.


  • Practice ministry BWA (ministry by walking around)!


  • Listen, listen, listen.


  • Find your own style of preaching and sermon preparation, based on your strengths and the needs of your particular congregation.


  • Learn all about clergy tax issues!!
    • Record your business mileage and other expenses diligently and clearly!


  • Lead by example
    • Don’t gossip or break confidentiality.
    • Don’t criticize or praise inappropriately.
    • Send thank you notes, birthday and anniversary cards.
    • Ask for help, for prayer, and for forgiveness.


  • Do not over-schedule yourself – or your congregation!


  • Observe the “flow” of the activities and church year – before you try to change it!


  • Do not rush to tell everyone your ministry ideas and plans – you may need to change them with time and experience. Let them evolve.


  • After an event, always think about how to do things better next year. Make notes to yourself.


  • Do not attempt to “fix” people or solve their problems. Be present, listen and ask questions to encourage reflection and recognition of options.


  • Continue to reflect on and clarify your vision of ministry for yourself.

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

reading in Baptist Studies? Click here for more detail.


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BSB Book Reviews: 

BSB presents two reviews of recently published books. The first, Fundamentalism, is written by Fisher Humphreys and Philip Wise, published by Smyth & Helwys. Humphreys is the popular professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, AL, and Wise, a former student of Humphreys, serves as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Lubbock, TX. The second book, A Piety Above the Common Standard: Jesse Mercer and the Defense of Evangelistic Calvinism, is written by Anthony L. Chute. Chute, who earned a Ph.D. in historical theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and teaches church history at California Baptist University. His book is published by Mercer University Press.

Richard F. Wilson, Chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity of Mercer University reviews Fundamentalism.

            The fifth chapter of Fisher Humphreys and Philip Wise’s good book is where most readers will begin, at least emotionally. "Fundamentalism and Southern Baptists" is the chapter title. Readers who pick up Fundamentalism will assume rightly that the struggle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention that began in 1979, and the subsequent domination of Southern Baptist life by Fundamentalists in the 1980s and beyond, provides a strong impetus for the writing of the book.
is a very different book, however, when compared to the spate of volumes published over the last decade that have attempted to explain what happened and how it was possible. Humphreys and Wise do not engage in a post-mortem of a once-great denomination. Neither do they engage in an exercise of sniping at the victors of the struggle.
            Instead, a seasoned theological educator (Fisher) and a pastor with proven skill (Philip) have presented a model for relating to Fundamentalism through kindness, forgiveness, and a hope for healing. Their irenic posture is neither timid nor weak. They fill out their model with clear calls to resist Fundamentalism through careful argument and debate when necessary, and through positive and hopeful building of churches and communities of faith that embody healthy alternatives to fundamentalism.
            The brief introduction to Fundamentalism makes clear the objectives of the authors: (1) interpret Fundamentalism, (2) equip people considering accepting Fundamentalism with tools to decide, and (3) empower non-Fundamentalists to relate to Fundamentalists in a hopeful, healthy way.
            Relying upon the work of Martin Marty and Scott Appleby, leading participants in the University of Chicago’s Fundamentalism Project, in Chapter One Humphreys and Wise sketch the "family resemblance" which is visible in all forms of Fundamentalism: (1) religious origins, (2) selective attention to tradition, (3) reaction against the modern world, (4) a siege mentality, (5) combativeness, (6) authoritarian male leaders, (7) a pessimistic view of history that claims the present is a time of crisis, (8) sharp distinctions between "true believers" and others, and (9) the development of totalitarian structures (9-14).
            The next three chapters are the substantive descriptions of the rise of Protestant Christian Fundamentalism in the United States in the late nineteenth century, the theological distinctives of the movement, and (perhaps most important) the characteristic attitudes that drive Fundamentalism. These chapters alone make this thin volume an excellent and valuable point of departure for study groups–including those in the context of churches, schools, colleges, and seminaries–who want and need to explore Fundamentalism. (To enhance study, the book includes a very good study guide.)
            As noted, the fifth chapter is the frame around the picture of Fundamentalism that Humphreys and Wise know best. They carefully apply the historical, theological, and psychological features of Fundamentalism to the Southern Baptist context and to those who have been wounded by it.
            The final chapter is a challenge to "progressive Baptists . . . to relate to Fundamentalists in a Christian manner" (81).For some of us, the challenge will be hard to accept, but Fisher and Philip are correct when they write, "we cannot control how Fundamentalists relate to us, [but] we are responsible to decide how we will relate to them" (82). In turn, they leave the reader with specific and practical examples.
            Fundamentalism concludes with a brief statement about "a better way" to follow Christ in the contemporary world. Returning to the distinctives of Fundamentalism sketched in Chapter Two, Fisher and Philip suggest that the "four enemies" of Fundamentalism (modernism, biblical criticism, evolution, and liberal theology) have values, too. In the end Fisher and Philip offer their own version of "the fundamentals" of Christian faith that span the globe and the centuries.
            Fundamentalism is a positive book carefully conceived and written. May it be read widely and applied carefully!

Daryl Black, assistant professor of history at Auburn University, reviews A Piety Above the Common Standard.

            Over the last twenty years, scholars of Protestantism in the early American republic have explored at length what has been coined “democratic religion.”  Broadly, they have argued that theology emphasizing human agency and will mirrored broader changes in American life and as a result came to dominate the new nation’s religious landscape.   This view has evolved into something of a consensus among academics and shapes both text-book treatments of early national religion and the research agenda for scholars working in the field.  Absent from these studies have been considerations of the persisting influence of Reformed theology in the creation of early American social and cultural identity.  In A Piety Above the Common Standard, historical theologian Anthony L. Chute has taken a long overdue step toward reintroducing Calvinism to the mainstream of early nineteenth century American religious history.
            Chute’s careful examination of the theological writings of Georgia Baptist leader Jesse Mercer demonstrates the vital importance of Reformed theology and opens our eyes to the ways leading Calvinists adapted their theology to the new economic, social and political world of the early republic.  He achieves this by closely reading and explaining the form and content of Mercer’s theological writings produced during the early nineteenth century: no small feat given that Mercer left few personal papers and never published a systematic explanation of his theology.  Chute reconstructs Mercer’s ideas through a detailed and discriminating examination of associational circular letters, published sermons and articles written for the Christian Index.  In so doing he sheds light on both Mercer’s exegetics and the conflicts his brand of Calvinism engendered.
             Chute’s close reading and careful analysis is both strength and weakness.  He captures well the passion of the theological debates that shook Georgia Baptists during the 1830s and 1840s and in so doing draws out many of Mercer’s fine distinctions of Calvinism.  In this debate, Mercer repeatedly explained how Calvinism and innovations such as trans-denominational tract societies and cooperative missionary agencies coincided.  The former he saw as a way a sovereign God brought “the elect to knowledge of their sins”(79-80). The latter he saw as “old as Christianity” and claimed the earliest apostles served as missionaries with the blessing of their home church (141-142). 
             Missing, however, is an explanation of how Mercer’s theology fit into the specific social and cultural context of the thriving cotton-planting region in which he lived, wrote, and preached.  There are several fine chapters charting the development of Calvinist Baptists in Georgia during the Revolutionary era and how many early national Georgians drew their social and political identity from Baptist examples.  However, he inadequately deals with the influence of the rising importance of slavery and cotton planting during the 1790s (exactly the period in which Mercer matured as both a social and theological leader in the region).  As a result one is left to wonder about the relationship between the ideals of the plantation as a social model, slavery as a fact of social life, and the direction of Mercer’s theological constructions.
             This, however, should not be seen as a fatal flaw in this excellent volume of Georgia Baptist history because in the end the author well answers the question he posed in the introduction, “in what ways did Jesse Mercer defend missions, education, and cooperative efforts on the basis of a Calvinistic theology?”  By doing so, he has taught us much about eighteenth and nineteenth century Baptist theology and the basis for the faith and social vision of many early national citizens.

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13 Day Baptist Heritage Tour         July 25 - August 6, 2005
Birmingham, England

The Baptist Heritage Tour includes the Centennial Congress of the Baptist World Alliance.
It is organized by Dr. Drayton Sanders, Chairman, Baptist Heritage Council of Georgia.
Dr. Johnny Pierce of Baptists Today and Dr. Walter Shurden of The Center
for Baptist Studies will accompany the tour.  For information contact
Dr. Drayton Sanders at 706-226-2349 or at


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.

"The Antimissionary Missionaries"

By John G. Crowley


            The early Primitive Baptists were often tireless evangelists, preaching in remote areas ignored by their "Missionary" opponents. Bitter conflicts in the mid 1800s, however, persuaded them that to be far from the "Missionaries" was to be close to God.
            In the mid 1990s a peculiar train of events revealed the lasting strength of these attitudes. A group of Filipino Baptists embraced Landmarkism and predestination, effectively becoming quasi-Primitives. Some of the Filipino brethren eventually learned of the Primitive Baptists, and the logic of their "church succession" doctrine compelled them to seek re-baptism from them.
            Eventually their Macedonian cry came to the attention of Elder Jeff Harris of Eureka Church, Irwin County, Georgia, and Elder Gus Harter of Bethany Church, Atlanta, Georgia. Both of these relatively young elders had a reputation as "liberals," although among Old Line Primitive Baptists, that is a very relative term.
            Clothed with the authority of Eureka Church, the elders traveled to the Phillipines and received and baptized members. On subsequent trips, Harris, Harter, and others baptized more members, constituted churches, and ordained elders. Both the Primitives and their Filipino protégés had a lot to learn about one another. The Filipinos, used to generous support from their former connections, soon learned the truth of Joseph Glover Baldwin's comment that Primitive Baptist generosity "would not amount to the supper bones for a hungry dog." The Primitives discovered that Filipino mores in regard to the definition of marriage differed considerably from the often stringent views of the American Primitives.
            Although not a "mission" in any genuine sense, Harter and Harris's activities raised the hackles of the ultra-orthodox. Every action taken in the Philipines was "gone over with a fine tooth comb." The eagle-eyed defenders of the "Old Paths" found many grave departures from orthodoxy, the trumpet of Beebe and Lawrence sounded again against a latter day Fuller and Carey bent on perverting the faith and practice once delivered to the saints. As in the 1830s, periodicals denounced, preachers fulminated, churches and associations adopted fierce non-fellowship resolutions, and most of the denomination lined up on one side or the other.
            As of today, there are still lingering quarrels, and the Filipino Primitive Baptists themselves are somewhat divided into various factions seeking alignment with other factions in the United States. Now numbering several hundred, they thus manifest some of the most telling characteristics of their American models.

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Dates to


Dates to Note


November 14-15, 2004, CBF of GA Fall Convocation at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, College Park, GA.


November 21-23, 2004, The Mercer Preaching Consultation, The King and Prince Hotel, St. Simons Island, GA. For details go to and click "Conferences."


July 27-31, 2005, Centennial Congress of the Baptist World Alliance, Birmingham, England. To register email , phone 703.790.8980, or fax 703.893.5160.

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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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