"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"
June 2005                Vol. 4  No. 6

Visit The Center for Baptist Studies' Web Site at

Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University

Walter B. Shurden, Executive Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Bruce T. Gourley, Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Table of Contents



I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "Theology Ablaze"

The Baptist Soapbox: J. Brent Walker

         "Responding to David Barton"

History of the Baptist World Alliance: Richard V. Pierard

         "The BWA in the Struggle for Religious Liberty"

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

         "On Taking the Bible Back"

Focus on Collegiate Ministry: Terry Hamrick

         "Collegiate Ministry: Now What?"

BSB Book Review:  The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, by Ronald J. Sider

         Reviewed  by E. Glenn Hinson

BSB Book Review Special:  Baptists in America, by Bill J. Leonard.

         Reviewed  by Robert E. Johnson

News and Resources From the Net: Bruce Gourley


Note:  To print the BSB, set your printer's left and right margins to .4 inches.


To change / add / delete your email for the Baptist Studies Bulletin, please click here.

Netscape users: If you need to increase the font size on your screen, click "view" then "increase font."

Note:  You are free to duplicate and circulate the articles in BSB or to use quotations
from our articles.  We would, however, appreciate a good word about where
you found your material. It makes us look good!  Thanks.

I Believe

"Theology Ablaze"

By Walter B. Shurden


I believe . . .

            that few stop to calculate the impact of congregational singing on the formation of our discipleship. Congregational singing, done right, is theology ablaze. Too many take it for granted. We do, at least, until we stop and realize how many of the hymns we can “sing by heart.” These simple poems have marinated our souls, saturated our spirits, and lodged themselves in our memory bank. One hopes they find expression in our living.

            Baptists have not always sung. When nineteenth century Baptist historian David Benedict began his travels throughout America to collect his materials for a history of the Baptists, he encountered people who would ask him, “Are you a singing Baptist?” (See his Fifty Years Among the Baptists, 80).

The two most important books in Baptist life are the Bible and the Hymnal. I confess to some regret that our staggering denominational diversity keeps us from utilizing the same hymnal. While I understand the problem of arriving at a common hymnal, the hymnbook is still the nearest we Baptists can come to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Alas! We have no common prayer book.

            After Wayne Oates, a man of profound piety and one of the spearheads of the pastoral counseling movement in the United States, moved from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to the University of Louisville to teach, someone at the University of Louisville asked Wayne, “What is the difference in the university and the seminary?” Wayne said, “At the seminary we sing!” (Craig McMahan, Minister to the University, Mercer University, told me this Oates story.)

            At the church we sing!! Thank God!! At my home church the congregation often sings so majestically that they stop me in mid-verse and cause self-conscious eyes to moisten. Don’t you envy African American Baptists who don’t mind losing control in the worship of Almighty God?            

At the church we sing! Thank God! What is sung matters as much as the way it is sung!  As in preaching, words matter. That line from “For the Beauty of the Earth” that speaks of “friends on earth and friends above” arrests the heart and evokes gratitude from the deepest places of the soul.  

At the church we sing! Could we theologians and ministers have had more influence upon Sally and John Q. Baptist by writing hymns for Sunday morning rather than tomes for library shelves? More people have sung “God of Grace and God of Glory” than ever read one of Fosdick’s inspiring books.

            At the church we sing! Thank God! Can some of you reading these words, do what Dan Day did for us in the last issue of this Bulletin and write some distinctively Baptist hymns? Denominational sectarianism is neither the issue nor the need. But the great themes of Baptist life desperately need to be sung in the ecumenical church and the larger world of faith. Where is the hymn on human rights? Religious Liberty? The priesthood of all believers? The local church as a Christocracy? God’s Word, as both Christ and Bible?  If you have one of these, let us know about it.

            At the church we sing! Thank God for Baptist hymn writers of old: Robert Robinson (1735-1790) and his “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” Anne Steele (1716-1778) and her 144 hymns, and Samuel Stennett (1727-1795) and his “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.” Thank God for Baptist hymn writers of today: Milburn Price (1938-    ) and his “Stir Your Church, O God, Our Father,” Thomas Jackson (1931-   ) and his “We Are Called to Be God’s People,” and now Dan Day and his “A Song of Soul Freedom.”

            At the church we sing, and good congregational singing sets theology ablaze.

Table Of Contents

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 J. Brent Walker, Executive Director of the Washington D.C.-based Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.


"Responding to David Barton"

By J. Brent Walker

David Barton of Texas, author of the "America's Godly Heritage" video, is a leading proponent of the claim that the concept of the separation of church and state is a myth.  He has served as the Vice Chair of the Texas GOP and was named one of the nation's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals" by Time Magazine in 2005.  Following is a refutation of some of Barton's most prominent and problematic claims.

A. Church-state separation is not in the Constitution.

Of course, neither the words "church-state separation" nor "wall of separation" appear in the Constitution. That does not mean Barton's position is correct. The Constitution does not specifically mention "separation of powers" or "the right to a fair trial" either, but who would deny the constitutional status of those concepts? "Church-state separation" is a metaphor for what certainly was and is the spirit of the First Amendment's religion clauses–government is to be neutral toward religion to the end of ensuring religious liberty.

B. Barton quotes the First Amendment as saying "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion." He also goes on to talk about the amendments that were rejected primarily by the Senate which, on their face, would have allowed the government to support religion on a non-preferential basis. He says this shows the Founder's true intent behind the First Amendment.

Barton is absolutely wrong. First of all, the phrase is not "the" establishment of religion, but "an" establishment of religion. It is not sufficient for the government to avoid establishing one particular religion; it may not establish religion in general. Moreover, the Founders banned laws even "respecting" an establishment of religion, indicating a broader intention for the government's non-involvement in religion.

Barton's citing of the Senate amendments allowing non-preferential support of religion cuts against his argument, not in favor of it. Those amendments do show that the Founders considered adopting such non-preferential ideas into the Constitution. However, they then defeated those amendments and deliberately adopted the language we have now which calls for governmental neutrality toward religion, neither favoring a specific sect nor religion in general. According to Douglas Laycock, an argument such as Barton's "requires a premise that the Framers were extraordinarily bad drafters." (Laycock, "Nonpreferential Aid to Religion: A False Claim about Original Intent" 27 William and Mary L. Rev. 875 (1985-86)).

Unless we are willing to accept this ludicrous assertion- that the Framers really intended the government to non-preferentially support religion, but then voted down amendments to that effect–we must conclude that the First Amendment says precisely what the Framers meant.

C. Barton mentions church-state separation as flowing from Thomas Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association. He asserts that later in the letter Jefferson made it clear that he wanted only a "one directional wall" to prevent the government from harming religion, not to prevent religion from capturing the government.

A reading of the entire letter belies any suggestion that Thomas Jefferson thought it was "one directional." There is absolutely nothing in the letter even to hint that that was the case. Indeed, to the degree that Jefferson's notion was one directional, most scholars would argue that he was more concerned with the church harming the state than vice versa (Laurence H. Tribe, American Constitutional Law, p. 1159). Of course, Barton completely ignores Roger William's reference 150 years earlier to the "hedge or wall of separation between the garden of church and the wilderness of the world" (Perry Miller, Roger Williams: His Contribution to the American Tradition, p. 89). It is clear that Williams, a Baptist pioneer, saw the advantage to the church of a clear boundary erected between itself and the state. More than that, he thought this wall was mandated by the very principles of Christianity. To that end, he wrote:

        "All civil states with officers of justice, in their respective constitutions and administrations, are ...
        essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of Spiritual, or Christian, State and
        worship ... An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state confounds the civil and
        religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh"
        (Stokes, supra, p. 199).

Thus, Williams and Jefferson understood the benefits to both the church and state of keeping those two entities separate and distinct.

D. Barton cities Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878), for the proposition that the Supreme Court has recognized Jefferson's "wall" as being "one directional."

This is simply not the case. Reynolds quotes Jefferson and then proceeds to ensconce Jefferson's wall metaphor into American Jurisprudence. The court observes, "Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured" (Id. at 164). Again, if anything, Barton's citation to Reynolds disputes, rather than supports, his position.

E. Barton criticizes the Court's decision in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947), for adopting a separationist position without quoting the Founders and in disregard of what Barton thinks the Founders intended.

Justice Hugo Black, a Baptist who had taught Sunday school in Alabama, wrote the majority opinion. The case involved a challenge to the right of government to reimburse the parents of parochial school students for transportation costs. For all of the Court's strong separationist language, it voted (5-4) to allow New Jersey to fund the transportation costs under the so-called "student benefit" theory. However, the Court was unanimous in agreeing with Justice Black's statement of the law. Justice Black cited plenty of authority for his decision–the writings of James Madison, including his "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments"; Jefferson's "Bill For Establishing Religious Liberty;" and Reynolds v. United States.

Note: The above is an excerpt from a longer article available on the Baptist Joint Committee website.

Table Of Contents


History of the Baptist World Alliance: The Baptist World Alliance is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  Richard V. Pierard is Stephen Phillips Professor of History, Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts and Professor of History, Emeritus, Indiana State University. The author of numerous books and articles, Dick is the general editor of the upcoming Baptists Together in Christ 1905-2005: A Hundred-Year History of the Baptist World Alliance. Learned and well traveled, he is an ecumenical Christian with firm Baptist convictions.


"The BWA in the Struggle for Religious Liberty"
By Richard V. Pierard


            One of the Baptist World Alliance’s most distinctive features has been its total commitment to religious liberty.  The movement was born in a controversy in England, where the educational system was supposedly non-sectarian, but an education bill passed by Parliament in 1902 provided for tax monies to go to Anglican and Roman Catholic schools.  Baptists and other free church people protested paying school taxes on this basis, and the first president of the BWA, John Clifford, was the popular leader of the Passive Resistance Movement, a non-violent refusal to pay the taxes, and his effort was enthusiastically endorsed at the first Baptist World Congress in 1905.

            At the Congress, E. Y. Mullins, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, issued a clarion call for “a free church in a free state,” and A. H. Strong, president of Rochester Theological Seminary, declared that the church of Christ “is independent of interference or control by the civil power,” and it is “treachery to Christ” to make “the church the creature of the state.”  His statement, “Absolute liberty of conscience has ever been a distinguishing tenet of Baptists, as it is a teaching of the New Testament,” rang through the hall in London, and was the foundation of the new BWA’s advocacy for freedom.

            Thereafter, questions of religious freedom occupied a place on its agenda.  In Europe there were problems in Hungary and Tsarist Russia.  After World War I Romania was a matter of special concern, and General Secretary J. H. Rushbrooke conducted ongoing negotiations with the Romanian government about restrictions on Baptist activities.  In addition, the BWA interceded for the freedom of Baptists in the Soviet Union, until Stalinist restrictions rendered this impossible.  The famous “Message” to other Christian brethren and to the world adopted at the 1923 Congress powerfully affirmed religious liberty as “an inherent and inalienable human right” that arose directly out of our creation in God’s image and the moral responsibility that we have as free personalities.  Strongly condemned was any union of church and state, because the church rests upon the spiritual principle of free choice, while the state rests upon law and the appeal to physical force.

            At every World Congress, speeches (and often resolutions) extolled religious liberty.  The great Southern Baptist presidents of the BWA—E. Y. Mullins, G. W. Truett, Theodore F. Adams, and Duke K. McCall—issued ringing defenses of religious freedom and separation of church and state.  A special commission at the 1947 Copenhagen Congress drafted a “Manifesto on Religious Freedom” that called on Baptists to stand firm in the faith and to reject any special privileges from the state.  They pledged themselves to seek freedom for all minority religious groups to determine their own faith, beliefs, and church organization; to preach and engage in evangelism, missions, and social work; to educate their ministers and youth; and to own and control the properties and facilities needed to carry out these endeavors.

            In the 1960s the BWA Commission on Religious Liberty came to encompass Human Rights as well.  In 1963 C. Emmanuel Carlson, who headed both the commission and the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, made a strong appeal to the Soviet government to halt religious persecution, an ongoing situation in the communist bloc that had concerned the BWA for years.  At the 1965 Congress, theologian James Leo Garrett, Jr. made a brilliant presentation on the biblical basis of religious liberty that showed “why” it was needed.  In the 1970s the BWA gained Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status at the United Nations and promoted religious liberty concerns there.  A major aspect of the BWA’s conversations with other Christian communions, especially the Roman Catholic Church, was underscoring the importance of religious liberty.  After the demise of the Soviet Union, it directed its attention to restrictions in non-Western countries where Christians were a small and often despised minority.  Thus, throughout its century of existence, the BWA was in the forefront of the struggle for religious liberty for all, not just Baptists.


Table Of Contents


Hot Topics in Church and State Today:
A Morning with Brent Walker
A Free Conference Co-Sponsored by Mercer University's
Center for Baptist Studies and McAfee School of Theology

September 8, McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta

9:00-9:15      Coffee and Refreshments
9:15-9:30      Welcome and Announcements
9:30-10:15    "Answering the Top Ten Lies about Church and State Today"
                     Brent Walker
10:15-10:30   Questions and Answers
10:30-11:15  "Directing Traffic in Our Nation's Capital at the Intersection of Church and State"
                     Brent Walker
11:15-11:30  Questions and Answers
11:30             Adjournment


September 18-20, St. Simons, Georgia


If you miss this one, you will miss hearing three presentations on preaching by Gardner C. Taylor of Brooklyn, NY, one of the greatest
preachers of our generation. You will also miss John Claypool, Kirby
, Kay Wilson Shurden, Sarah Withers, Hardy Clemons, Jim Evans, Dee Bratcher and Bill Coates. The cost is only $50 per person.  Put it on your calendar now!! Click here for more information.

Last year was sold out before Frances the Hurricane blew us away!


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.


"On Taking the Bible Back"
By Charles E. Poole


             Where is Willie McCoy when you need him?  You know, Willie McCoy, the man made famous by the great 20th century American poet Jim Croce in that immortal ballad, “You Don’t Mess Around With Slim.”  On the off-chance that you have forgotten that moving saga, here is an essential excerpt:


Outta South Alabama come a country boy

He said, 'I’m lookin’ for a man named Jim

I am a pool shootin’ boy

My name is Willie McCoy

But back home they call me Slim

I’m looking for the King of 42nd Street

He drivin’ a drop-top Cadillac

Last week he took all my money

And it may sound funny

But I come to get my money back'


Sometimes I feel a little like Willie McCoy. Only it’s not my money I want to re-claim, it’s my Bible.  With apologies to Slim, “It may sound funny, but I’ve come to take my Bible back.” Specifically, I’ve come to reclaim a Bible interpreted in the light of the life of Jesus. 

Interpreting the Bible with Jesus as the ultimate measure of interpretation has profound implications for the ways we see, hear and respond to those who live in poverty.  For example, several years ago, I read a newspaper article by a minister who was arguing that churches should not help poor people who could work, but don’t.  He said he was basing this opinion on the Bible, because Paul wrote in II Thessalonians 3:10, “Those who will not work shall not eat.”  Lots of people liked that.  They cut out copies to keep.  It supported their economics and their politics.  And it was “biblical,” because it was in the Bible. 

Excuse me, My name is Willie McCoy, and it may sound funny, but I’ve come to take my Bible back.  I agree that folks need to be responsible, industrious and hard working.  Those are healthy and good virtues.  I wish everybody wanted a job and had one.  But to use the Bible to argue that the church should not help those who won’t work is to fail to take into account the words and the spirit of our Lord, who said, “Give to anyone who begs from you” and “I was hungry and you fed me” and “When you give a dinner invite the poor.”  Nowhere does Jesus say that his followers should only aid the poor who are “deserving” or “worthy.”  I work with many people who have had no example of work and employment lived before them.  Would Jesus deny them adequate shelter, clothing and food?  Absolutely not, if the Bible is to be trusted. 

That is one small example of where the Bible lands when the Bible is interpreted in the light of the ultimate revelation of God, Jesus the Christ.  The Bible says, “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them.”  That is our calling; to look with compassion on those who struggle and hurt, to look with compassion on those who are trapped in cycles of inertia and despair, to look with compassion on those who live everyday on the hard margins of life. 

That is what the Bible teaches when the Bible is interpreted in the light of the life of Jesus, and that is the Bible we must reclaim. 

Table Of Contents


Focus on Collegiate Ministry: As the moderate Baptist movement continues to grow and expand, emphasis on collegiate ministry is slowly taking shape at a time when traditional Baptist Student Union/Baptist Campus Ministry models are facing unprecedented challenges. This series, featuring writers who know Baptist collegiate ministry, focuses on the future of moderate Baptist collegiate ministry. This month's contributor is Dr. Terry Hamrick, Leadership Development Coordinator for National Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

"Collegiate Ministry: Now What?"

By Terry Hamrick

          The Baptist Studies Bulletin has included an article on Collegiate Ministry in each of the last five issues.  There is a growing concern and realization that the current generations of college students are not being invited to intentionally faith-forming experiences by moderate Baptists.  That case has been made.

           Let me summarize what we know.  We know that there is a lot of unhealthy religion available to college students.  We know that young adults are open and searching. That’s what college is for! We know that programmatic paradigms of “one size fits all” no longer work.  We know that the most effective ministry approach is individualized–one on one.  We know that a congregational context is a good place to provide personal care for college students.  We know that our Baptist traditions are a “good fit” for personal spiritual formation.

           So, given all this knowledge, why are we so puzzled about how to do collegiate ministry?  Perhaps it is because in the post-modern, post-denominational, post-programmatic, post-“we know how” world, we are puzzled about everything!  The presenting issue is Collegiate Ministry.  The broader issue is how are we to be Baptist Christians and churches in the transitional world in which we find ourselves?  We know, if we are truthful, that several generations of Baptists need to be invited to intentionally faith-forming experiences, not just college students.

           I would like to propose that what we know about Collegiate Ministry needs to be applied to the congregation as a whole.  Many adults are being lured by unhealthy religion.  More and more are searching for spiritual answers.  Our increasing diversity calls for increasing customization.  We need to be intentional about spiritual formation.  It requires more than a program.  By doing Collegiate Ministry well, I believe we will begin to discover what being the people of God looks like.  Now, that’s a college education!

Table Of Contents

Book Review BSB Book Review: 

BSB presents a review of The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, by Ronald J. Sider.  Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005.  140 pp.

E. Glenn Hinson, Professor Emeritus of Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Senior Professor of Church History and Spirituality at Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Visiting Professor of Church History at Lexington Theological Seminary, and Adjunct Professor of Church History at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary is our reviewer.


            Baptists will probably have some interest in this “jeremiad” addressed to “evangelicals,” that amorphous group which seems to be chiefly an outgrowth of American fundamentalism.  Many who don’t identify themselves as evangelicals, of course, will applaud what, on the basis of sociological studies, Sider, professor at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, says in his indictment of evangelicals regarding divorce, materialism, sexual promiscuity, racism, and physical abuse in marriage.  He sharply raps these “Bible believers” with biblical teaching and contends that they have substituted what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace” for the whole gospel–reducing the gospel to forgiveness of sins; limiting salvation “to personal fire insurance against hell;" misunderstanding persons primarily as souls; embracing the individualism, materialism, and relativism of American culture; lacking a biblical understanding and practice of church; and failing to teach a biblical worldview.

            Sider is convinced that the root problem is conformity to an American popular culture that is “sick, sick unto death.”  This sickness, he charges, is a consequence of individualism, relativism, and materialism “rooted in the Enlightenment’s abandonment of historic Christian theism.”  The individual took God’s place at the center of reality.  Postmodernism has not helped, for it has heightened the relativism.  Meantime, a new type of materialism has emerged in our market economy.  The Church has resisted none of these.

            What is the prescription for this malady?  Sider cites six things: returning to Jesus as the center, recovery of the holiness of the Church, rediscovery of the Church as community, practicing mutual accountability and availability, and living in the power of the Spirit.  Although pretty gloomy in his analysis, Sider does see a ray of hope emerging from a small segment of more committed Christians.

            Much as I found myself nodding with approval at many ideas Sider has advanced, I’m fearful that his book’s simplistic analysis and strident tone will cause many to dismiss it.  In addition, I don’t want to associate Baptists too glibly with “evangelicals.”  Ours is the Free Church tradition which values certain things which “evangelicals” are trying hard to get rid of in their drive to create the American society they want–the voluntary principle in religion, religious liberty, and the separation of church and state.  Baptist historians aren’t likely to fault John Leland as Sider has, for instance, for his assertion, “Religion is a matter between God and individuals.”  They know the context of that statement as a day when Leland himself spent time in Culpepper County jail for refusal to stop unlicensed preaching.  No, America does not need to return either to an Anglican or a Puritan or an “Evangelical” establishment.  We owe the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights in great measure to efforts of John Leland.

Table Of Contents

Book Review Special BSB Book Review Special: 

BSB presents a review of  Baptists in America, by Bill J. Leonard. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005.

Robert E. Johnson, editor of the American Baptist Quarterly, is Associate Professor of Church History and Missiology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kansas.  Previously, he taught church history and pastored in Brazil and Russia.

            “I often went to revival meetings and other services with my grandmother Frankie Henton, who attended the Fundamentalist Baptist Church of Decatur. It was an Independent Baptist congregation with a big neon anchor outside the church that flashed Jesus Saves twenty-four hours a day…. People got saved … ‘hard’ at the Fundamentalist Baptist Church, and I always thought their method for evaluating the effectiveness of the preacher was rather simple: ‘He don’t sweat, we don’t listen.’” These are the opening lines of Bill’s Preface. Similar anecdotes punctuate this very balanced treatment of Baptist life and history in America, compelling me on to the next topic even as the clock repeatedly warns that bedtime is long passed.

            Leonard has three reasons for choosing to write a book on Baptists at this time in American history: Baptists’ high visibility (and that often not in a positive light), transformations occurring in Baptists’ own sense of ecclesiological and denominational identity, and the opportunity offered to explore Baptists’ struggles with various issues confronting the broader culture.  To accomplish this he proposes to trace “the basic history of the denomination and then [explore] specific topics that have galvanized Baptist churches and individuals in the latter third of the twentieth century” (p. 5). This purpose is developed in the following fashion: Chapters 2 and 3 sketch the four hundred years of Baptist history, furnishing a blueprint from which to identify the major players and issues integral to Baptists’ DNA. The remaining seven chapters explore three major strands of that DNA: beliefs, taxonomy, and controversies.

            Chapters 4 and 6 deal most pointedly with Baptist beliefs and associated practices, but every chapter includes some elements of this driving force in Baptist life. Chapter 4 presents an overview of Baptist beliefs through their history by surveying some of their most significant confessions of faith. Chapter 6 outlines several core beliefs that have produced division, especially those surrounding biblical authority, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church government. In each case, Leonard has attempted to be broadly representative and equitable in his treatment.

            Baptist taxonomy is the focus of chapter 5. Here Bill not only offers an overview of Baptist denominations in the United States, he also organizes them according to certain significant characteristics. Among the major groupings are: American Baptist Churches (Albert Wardin, in Baptists Around the World,  culturally classifies them as Baptist churches with northern orientation), Southern Baptists (Baptist churches with southern orientation), Seventh Day Baptists, Appalachian-Based Baptists, Arminian Baptists, Ethnic Baptist groups, Independent Baptist groups, Landmark Baptist groups, African American Baptist groups, and newer Baptist groups. This taxonomy helps the reader gain a clearer image of the role that both belief and culture have played in shaping the Baptist landscape viewed today.

            For me, chapters 7 through 10, dealing with controversies in Baptist life, became the most engaging part of the book. They survey Baptist views and struggles over religious tradition (chapter 7), race (chapter 8), women’s roles (chapter 9), and relationship with American culture (chapter 10). Again, his treatment is representative and balanced.

            The one thing I found lacking in this work was an adequate conclusion. The book seemed to end rather abruptly. As I have reflected on this, the ending does seem somewhat appropriate—to leave the reader emotionally exactly where many Baptists find themselves today, longing for some satisfying conclusion but often finding none. Yet, I did feel that after having explored so much of Baptists’ past and analyzing the range of their struggles over the last several decades, at least a brief indication of future prospects was needed. While no definitive answers are possible, what would be a historians best guesses for Baptists’ future in America based on this research?

            Baptists in America provides an excellent resource for those desiring a clear and concise overview of Baptists and their controversies. It will be an especially valuable tool as a foundation for church and classroom dialogue on issues of Baptist belief, taxonomy, and controversies. Grandmother Henton might add, “If you don’t sweat with this book, you ain’t Baptist!”

Table Of Contents


News and Resources from the Net
by Bruce Gourley


Freedom and July 4th – The First Freedoms Project is partnering with churches to celebrate and support treasured freedoms.  With Independence Day quickly approaching, many congregations are looking for creative ways to celebrate First Amendment freedoms that include religious liberty and freedom of the press. Numerous resources crafted by respected Baptist leaders are now available online at or on CD. These include sermons, lessons, litanies and much more. This first annual emphasis is promoted by the First Freedoms Project–a new partnership between Associated Baptist Press, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Baptists Today news journal and supportive churches. The web site also provides information on how your church can become a First Freedoms Congregation that celebrates and supports historic freedoms. Gifts to the First Freedoms Project support the work of these three national ministries directly related to First Amendment freedoms. – John Pierce, Baptists Today


The Baptist Joint Committee's New Site – The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, longtime and leading champion of religious freedom in America, has a newly organized and updated web site.  For religious liberty news, commentary, BJC publications, sermons, and other useful resources, go to


Georgia CBF Recognizes Women Deacons – The June/July 2005 edition of Visions features a special section on Georgia Baptist "Churches with Women Deacons."  Women deacons are becoming increasingly popular in Baptist life, as evidenced by this very significant survey of Baptist churches in Georgia.


Book Review Spotlight – Mark D. McGarvie, Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Richmond, and former Golieb Fellow in Legal History at New York University School of Law, offers an insightful review of Philip Hamburger's controversial book, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), in which Hamburger argues that separation of church and state has little solid historical support.  In his review, McGarvie rebuts Hamburger point-for-point, concluding that, "Its only value is to be found in the historical record and anecdotes it provides rather than its attempt to reconfigure a complex historical issue."  Click here to read the review.


Table Of Contents

Dates to


Dates to Note


June 22-25, The Gathering of Baptists and Others Interested in Spirituality, Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, NC.  Keynote Speaker: Bill Clemmons.  Theme: Centered in Christ, a Contemplative Way.  Sponsored by Advent Spirituality Center. For information: 828-206-0383 or email:


June 30 - July 1, CBF National General Assembly.  Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center, Grapevine, TX.

July 1-3
, American Baptist Churches USA Biennial Meeting, Denver, Colorado.  Theme: "Lift Up Your Eyes."

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

August 5-7, Being Attentive to the Presence of Christ Everyday: An Experiential Prayer Retreat.  Richmond Hill Retreat Center, Richmond, VA.  Retreat Leader: Joy Heaton.  Sponsored by Advent Spirituality Center.  For info: 828-206-0383 or email:


September 8, "Hot Topics in Church and State Today: A Morning with Brent Walker," McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, GA.  Co-sponsored by McAfee School of Theology and The Center for Baptist Studies.  Click here for more information, including the Program.


September 18-20, The Mercer Preaching Consultation '05, The King and Prince Hotel St. Simons Island, GA.  Co-sponsored by McAfee School of Theology and The Center for Baptist Studies.  The Cost is $50 Per Person.  Click here for more information, including the Program.


July 12-15, 2006, International Conference on Baptist Studies IV, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada.  The Fourth International Conference on Baptist Studies will help to mark the centennial celebrations of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches.  The theme is "Baptists and Mission," which includes home and foreign missions, evangelism, and social concern. For more information, contact Professor D. W. Bebbington, Department of History, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4TB, Scotland, United Kingdom (e-mail: For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the Online Baptist Community Calendar.

Table Of Contents


BAPTIST MYTHS and the Death of Pope John Paul II

"Baptists are Anti-Ecumenical" (by Glenn Jonas, Professor of Religion and Chair, Dept. of Religion, Campbell University)

"Baptists are Anti-Catholic" (by John M. Finley, Pastor, FBC, Savannah, GA)


The two pamphlets noted above are from a series of eleven pamphlets that address negative perceptions held towards Baptists in American popular culture.  The "Anti-Ecumenical" and "Anti-Catholic" myths are particularly timely in light of the recent death of Pope John Paul II. 


Individual pamphlets and the larger pamphlet series 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.

Order Form

Table Of Contents




If you do not wish to receive BSB any longer, please Click Here to unsubscribe.