"A Monthly Emagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today"
March 2005                Vol. 4  No. 3

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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

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I Believe . . . : Walter B. Shurden

         "Immoderate Hopes for Moderates"

The Baptist Soapbox: Trudy Pettibone

         "Proud to be Baptist"

History of the Baptist World Alliance: Richard V. Pierard

         "The Affirmation of Women in the Baptist World Alliance"

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

         "Talking to Our Children About the Poor"

Focus on Collegiate Ministry: Tim Willis

         "Challenges and Opportunities of Collegiate Ministry Today"

BSB Book Review:  The Betrayal of Southern Baptist Missionaries by Southern Baptist Leaders,
         by John W. Merritt

         Reviewed  by E. Glenn Hinson

Significant Links: Articles from Other Websites


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I Believe

"Immoderate Hopes for Moderates"

By Walter B. Shurden


I believe . . .

            that the moderate Baptist movement in America has genuine reasons for encouragement and hope. I base the belief on four recent events in which I participated.

            First, I attended the CBF Coordinating Council (CC) meeting in Atlanta on Thursday, 17 February. It was my first opportunity to observe a CC meeting in several years. It is a diverse, talented, and impressive group. The Council is in the throes of dealing with the knotty and tangled issue of how CBF will relate in the immediate future to its “Partners,” all those institutions and agencies that work alongside CBF, some of whom receive funding from CBF. It is a sign of CBF’s growing denominational status and an acknowledgment of its limited resources that hard decisions have to be made now about “Partners.” I am hopeful that all “Partners” can accomplish the Herculean task of transcending self-interest to think of CBF as a whole. At the meeting the Coordinating Council endorsed an Asian American female as the new moderator of CBF and an African American male as moderator-elect. I left the meeting hopeful of CBF’s future. One reason for that hope is that CBF is in extraordinarily good hands with Daniel Vestal, a man who knows his mind but who is also amazingly comprehensive in spirit. 

            Second, I attended the Mainstream Convocation in Atlanta Friday and Saturday, 25-26 February. It was my first national Mainstream meeting. I will return. While the speakers and the breakout sessions were all stellar, the most hopeful news came from a  panel discussion near the end of the meeting. John Upton of VA, Alan Stanford of the North American Baptist Fellowship (a regional body related to the BWA), Charles Wade of TX, David Currie of Mainstream, and Daniel Vestal of CBF participated in the discussion. Realistic about problems, they exuded confidence. Rather than lamenting the past, they described exciting, inspiring, and multifaceted ministries for the present. They, too, were a very impressive group. Each speaker agreed that the future of the moderate Baptist movement rests in the local Baptist congregation, not in the denominational entities that they lead. I nodded “yes.” The trick, however, is for creative local congregations to understand that the world does not end at their doorsteps. Baptist churches have to connect with each other for the broader good of Christ’s work.

            Third, I attended the CBF of Georgia General Assembly in Rome, GA March 5-6. Georgia CBFers packed out the bottom floor of the sanctuary of the beautiful First Baptist Church. Yes, we are an older bunch, but the presence of recent seminary graduates and current seminary students inspired hope for our future. Dr. Chuck Poole, a current writer for The Baptist Studies Bulletin, preached two incredibly helpful and inspiring sermons, the last of which was “We Ordain Women Because We Baptize Girls.”

            Finally, I recently finished a paper on the history of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The research forced me to discover what CBF has done in the past and what it is doing in the present. I came away from the study inspired by CBF’s ministry to the “least of these” in the twenty poorest rural counties in the U.S., by its quality theological education for the 1,800 students enrolled among its thirteen seminary “Partners,” by its 146 missionaries to unreached people groups, by its rapid response to the Tsunami in Asia, by its 450 chaplains in military, hospital, and pastoral counseling settings, and by its ecumenical involvement with the Baptists World Alliance and “Christian Churches Together in the U.S.”

            Moderates are here to stay. We have a future!! But lots of work remains.

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A Day with Fisher Humphreys:  April 19, 2005
"Theological Trends Today"
The Center for Baptist Studies / Mercer University, Macon, GA

Open Theism / Calvinism / Fundamentalism / Forgiveness

Humphreys is Professor of Divinity at the Beeson School of Divinity of Samford University.

It isn’t news to anyone that Fundamentalism is flourishing today, and many of us remember when the conventional understanding was that Fundamentalism was disappearing. How could the interpreters of religion have been so mistaken? In this session we’ll define Fundamentalism as found both in Christianity and in other religions. We’ll discuss the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and we’ll talk about how to get along with Fundamentalists in our families, our churches, our workplaces, and our social clubs.

Theological Trends Conference Fee is Only $25 Per Person

View Program      Seating is Limited – Make Your Reservations Today!

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 Trudy Pettibone, pastor of a two-church American Baptist parish in North Creek, New York.  Trudy is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College.


"Proud to be Baptist"

By Trudy Pettibone


            Recently I learned that several of the members of one of the American Baptist churches I pastor came en masse into the membership of the church. They came on the same day from other denominations and came with one requirement: that they not have to be baptized. These people are all very active members and strong supporters of the church.  It is irrelevant to them that it is a Baptist church.

            When I came to faith in the Lord in 1982, I joined a Baptist church, but that was not a major concern for me. It was important to me only to be known as a Christian. Over the years, however, I have gained a strong appreciation for being Baptist and the things Baptists traditionally stand for. One of these, held by Baptists and others, is the baptism of believers. This is a very scriptural concept, ignored by many denominations. We should be very proud of this aspect of Baptist life, and yet more and more we are pulling away from the things that have made us special.

            Romans 12:4-5 emphasizes that those who are in Christ are one Body, and I love that imagery. I participate in and enjoy many ecumenical activities and the fellowship of my non-Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are going to be The Church that the world needs today, we have to break down barriers to the growth and well-being of the Body that have been constructed over the years. However, we cannot compromise those things that are not only Baptist, but are teachings of our Lord and Savior.  

            A term that I have heard thrown around is Post-Denominationalism. As I have understood those who have discussed this concept, the idea is that we are beyond the need for denominations, and we should all be one happy Christian family. What a great idea! The problem is, whose idea of Christianity are we going follow? Jesus said “Make disciples and baptize them.” Too many people, in this age of deconstructing the teachings of Jesus, do not accept this teaching, choosing instead to baptize before belief, and worry about discipleship later. I will keep my denominational identity, thank you, and show myself faithful to what I believe are the true teachings of my Lord.

            My first pastorate was an interim ministry at a “Community Baptist” church, this designation being preceded by the town name. Some boasted that “Community” was their middle name, and they took pride in their outreach to the community, which was very proper. However, they carried the concept much further than that. Believers’ baptism was not a requisite for membership. I maintain that “Baptist” was their last name, more important than a middle name, but this faith community might very easily put aside that designation and all for which it stands. 

            When our time on this rock is over, God is not going to ask about our denomination.  We won’t get "points" for being Baptist. We will get “points,” however, for faithfulness to the Word, Jesus Christ. As long as Baptists follow the crucial teachings of Christ, I will proudly remain a Baptist and insist on following the Christ-mandated procedure of believer's baptism for inclusion in the Body.


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A new feature of The Center for Baptist Studies web site,
designed to assist you in communicating Baptist traditions
in your local church setting, including:

Preaching Helps / Sermon Ideas / Pastor Search Committee Helps
Sunday School Lessons / Baptist Heritage Week / Children's Material
Wednesday Night Programs / Writing a Local Church History / More

Click here to View Our Collection of Resources For Your Local Church


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! 1905-2005: Centennial History of the Baptist World Alliance. Learned and well traveled, he is an ecumenical Christian with firm Baptist convictions.


"The Affirmation of Women in the Baptist World Alliance"
By Richard V. Pierard


            This is the third essay reflecting on the history of the Baptist World Alliance, following the theme of “Ecumenism Baptist-style.”  The British Baptists were far ahead of most US-American Baptist bodies in allowing a larger role for women in church life.  The two great leaders of the early 20th century, John Clifford and J. H. Shakespeare, encouraged women to take an active part in the [British] Baptist Union, and this spirit carried over into the new BWA.

            When BU secretary Shakespeare invited Baptists around the globe to a World Congress in London in 1905, he formed a British committee comprised of 59 men and 8 women to handle the arrangements.  Its 37-member counterpart in the US was all male.  He asked the various Baptist bodies to provide the names of possible speakers, and the Northern and National Baptists (African American) each included a woman, Lucy Peabody, leader of the Woman’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society, and Nannie Helen Burroughs, secretary of the NBC’s Women’s Auxiliary.  Peabody gave a well-received speech about women on the mission field, and the latter spoke twice, at a plenary session and in an open-air rally in Hyde Park, where she stole the show with a lively message, “The Triumph of Truth.” 

            At the second Congress in 1911, a special session was reserved for the women, where several women from various countries spoke.  Marie C. Kerry, home secretary of the Baptist Zenana Mission, reported on the work in India, while Isabel James talked about how her Baptist Women’s League was aiding the church in Britain.  Nannie Burroughs told of the achievements of African American women since the end of slavery.  SBC-WMU leader Fanny E. S. Heck acknowledged that Americans had much to learn from other Baptist women.  The coming of war stymied an attempt to establish a newsletter to keep Baptist women in touch with one another.

            At the 1923 Congress, women were highly visible, with addresses by Northern Baptist Helen Montgomery Barrett, the first woman to preside over a major US denomination, WMU figure Minnie Kennedy James, and others.  At one session a young woman was commissioned for mission work in Estonia.  A Woman’s Committee was formed, chaired by the Baptist Women’s League president, but it did not do much.  At the 1928 Congress (where two women gave plenary speeches) the committee was disbanded, and a constitutional change gave two women regular seats on the BWA Executive Committee.

            Thereafter, women were regularly involved in the World Congresses, and at the woman’s conference at Copenhagen in 1947 a moving service of reconciliation occurred.  Following a meeting in London in 1948, the European Baptist Women’s Union was organized, and the BWA Executive Committee authorized creation of a Women’s Committee at the 1950 Congress.  Head of the new body was Southern Baptist Olive Martin, and she deserves much credit for its accomplishments in women’s work.  In 1955 it was elevated to the status of Women’s Department of the BWA.  That same year, Mrs. Edgar Bates of Canada was the first woman elected a BWA vice-president.  Thereafter, at least one woman served in that position; by the 1990s the number had risen to five.

The Women’s Department has its own constitution, officers, and budget, as well as organizations in the various regions to broaden its outreach.  The most active of the BWA auxiliaries, it empowers Baptist women around the world through workshops, training programs, and regional conferences.  It has firmly resisted efforts by male authority figures to prevent women from exercising their leadership gifts, both in congregational life and in regional, national, and international bodies.  In 1982 it employed its first full-time director, American Baptist June Totten.  The current director is former Southern Baptist missionary Patsy Davis.  Catherine Allen’s history of the Women’s Department will appear this summer.

Note: For further information, you may visit the Women's Department of the BWA website.


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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. 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.


"Talking to Our Children About the Poor"
By Charles E. Poole

               Perhaps we could begin by loving our children and teenagers enough to tell them the truth.  I know it’s a modest proposal, but we have to start somewhere.  So perhaps, when it comes to Baptists, the Bible, and the poor, we Baptists might begin with the simple act of loving our children and teenagers enough to sit down with them in Sunday School and tell them something like this:


“We want to always speak the truth to you about God, Jesus and the world.  The truth is, when Jesus was here, he spoke often about the needs of the poor, and he also spoke often about how his followers should care more about the struggles of others than about our own comforts and desires.  Because that is the way Jesus was, and because the church is in the world to keep the Jesus way going, we promise to do our best to keep the needs of the poor ahead of our own comforts.  That means, for example, that while we will always make sure you have a clean, safe place to learn and sing and play at church, there may also be times when your classroom is a little too crowded, or the space where you meet is not perfect for your age group.  There’s a very good reason for that.  The reason is that there is a limit to how much money any church has, including yours, and we can’t always spend the money it would cost to make church space perfect for a few hours a week and have the money that is needed to help those who live in terrible conditions all day everyday.  So, we want you to know that, when your church has to choose between a little more comfort for adults, youth and children for a few hours a week, and a lot more comfort for the poor that will help them all day everyday, you can count on us to choose the Jesus way, which is more relief for the poor, over the usual way, which is more comfort for us.”


            If we Baptists began to speak that kind of truth now, it isn’t hard to imagine, twenty or thirty years from now, a generation of Baptist ministers, deacons and finance committee members who will always automatically measure their churches’ plans and goals by a simple yardstick they picked up when they were young:  “How do these dreams and plans match up with the words and works of Jesus?”

            It is, admittedly, a modest proposal; this small idea that we consider telling our children and youth the truth about the difference between the church of the American dream and the church of Jesus.  It isn’t much, but we have to start somewhere. 

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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 Tim Willis, a long-time campus minister at Clemson University who is now serving as Minister to College Singles at First Baptist Church, Clemson, South Carolina.

"Challenges and Opportunities of Collegiate Ministry Today"

By Tim Willis

            One of the key obstacles in collegiate ministry today is working with Baptist students who don't have a clear identity of who they are as Baptists and who lack a consistent commitment to one particular group. There is more of a cafeteria approach in terms of collegiate ministry variety and style. Students tend to choose ministry groups that meet certain needs at certain times.
            From the perspective of the collegiate minister, helping students formulate a healthy balance of denominationalism and ecumenism necessitates determining what portions of the old model of ministry need to be discarded and which components of the plethora of new models should be utilized. An additional challenge involves trying to balance substance and activities.
            Designing a ministry or program that appeals to the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of students in developing an authentic and healthy faith demands ongoing creativity and resourcefulness. College students today are more complex because of the widely varied family and social environments from which they come. It is increasingly difficult, in the face of unprecedented diversity on the campus, to connect with students in a manner which taps into their passions and stimulates a desire to develop gifts and talents in a productive and powerful manifestation.  At a deeper level, it is imperative to provide a deft touch in bringing individual students along at a pace that doesn't overwhelm them while providing a challenge for their faith journey.
            And yet a great opportunity is now at hand.  Traditional structures for doing collegiate ministry are giving way to new approaches from moderate Baptists.  The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is beginning to recognize the urgency of collegiate ministry.  Now is the time to organize, strategize and develop.  A renewed focus on collegiate ministry can energize Baptist life in the local church and on the denominational level. 

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Book Review BSB Book Review: 

BSB presents a review of The Betrayal of Southern Baptist Missionaries by Southern Baptist Leaders, by John W. Merritt.

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, reviews The Betrayal of Southern Baptist Missionaries?

            Many who suffered through the Southern Baptist “holy war” and came away with some heavy scars may think there is not much more which needs to be said about it.  If you are among those, I suggest that you at least take a little time to read this belated but informative indictment of inerrantists who engineered the “takeover” or “reformation” of the Southern Baptist Convention by a career Southern Baptist missionary and his appeal to the churches to take back their Convention and to restore it to its original purpose–to discharge the Great Commission.

            John Merritt, with his wife Elizabeth a missionary for 35 years and Executive Secretary of the European Baptist Convention from 1972 until 1997, is well-qualified to speak out.  I will confess here that I have more than casual interest in what he has to say because he has anchored his case in the SBC Foreign Mission Board’s precipitous defunding of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Rüschlikon, Switzerland, in 1991, ostensibly because my teaching there at the invitation of the faculty “proved” their suspicion that the seminary faculty were “liberal.”  As one would expect given his role at the time, Merritt was not a detached bystander in all of this.  As Executive Secretary of the EBC, he made a strong effort to have the FMB reverse its decision and, afterwards, he went to great lengths to help restore the FMB’s relationship with the European Baptist Federation.  Unfortunately, the Board not only refused to change their initial decision; led by Paul Pressler, they also repudiated an apology for it made by their representatives in a meeting with representatives of the EBF.

            As the title itself suggests, The Betrayal is not simply a history of the defunding incident.  John Merritt wants to get Southern Baptist churches to realize how severely the present leaders of the SBC have damaged the mission work of the Convention.  Watching the continuing swing to the far right in both political and religious realms in the United States, I’m not as optimistic as he that the churches will pay heed to his pleas, despite the near reverence many Southern Baptists have for missionaries.  His book, however, has lasting value in his documentation of the defunding of Rüschlikon, the reaction of European Baptists, and fundamentalist insider correspondence about the decision. 

            Of particular interest to me is the quotation in full of an unsigned letter of a FMB trustee, on stationery of the First Southern Baptist Church of Thousand Oaks, California, to the board of trustees outlining how they should proceed to deal with reaction against the defunding of Rüschlikon.  Imagine how relieved I was to discover this:  “Glen[n] Hinson is not the issue at Rüschlikon.  He simply proves the point.  His teaching there should not be a surprise to any of us.  He is not out of step with the historical mainstream of teaching at that institution.”  As it turned out, I proved their contention in a couple of other ways.  “The staff, both in Richmond and on the field, has allowed modern liberalism to continue to be taught at that school.  How do I know this to be true? . . . Glen[n] Hinson!”  Some FMB staff, President Hopper, and the Rüschlikon trustee breached their agreement in 1988 (of course, to get rid of liberals).  “Their promise was not fulfilled and Dr. Hinson proves that point.”  What price fame!

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Significant Links: Articles and Commentary from Other Websites


"A 'Byte' of Baptist History" – by Robert Richardson
"Ten Reasons to Not Post the 'Big Ten'" – by James Evans
Jim Wallis on Why the Right Gets it Wrong, and the Left Doesn't Get It

"'Other' Baptists in U.S. Need a Unique Identity, Currie Says Baptist Standard
"British Baptists Preparing for Upcoming World Congress" – ChristianToday.Com


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

Dates to


Dates to Note


June 2-4, Baptist History and Heritage Society Annual Meeting.  Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.  Theme: "Women in Baptist History."


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


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.


For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the Online Baptist Community Calendar.

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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.

Order Form

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