Produced by The Center for Baptist
Studies, Mercer University
A Monthly EMagazine, Bridging Baptists
Yesterday and Today
Bruce T. Gourley,
Baptist Studies Bulletin
Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In Response To . . .
: Bruce T. Gourley
The Baptist Soapbox: Pamela Durso
for the Future of Baptist Women Ministers"
Ministry in the Local Church: Julie Whidden Long
Children Baptist Heritage"
Collegiate Ministry in Moderate Baptist Life:
"American Baptists and Cooperative Baptists
Books That Matter:
Search of the New Testament Church: The Baptist Story
by C. Douglas Weaver
The Baptist Studies Bulletin Recommends:
Walter Shurden's Preaching Journal
Dates to Note
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In Response to . . . :
Currently the Interim Director of the Center for Baptist
Studies, Bruce has been on the staff of the Center since 2004. He
previously served as a campus minister and professor of church history.
In addition, he is involved in a number of areas of moderate Baptist life
through the medium of the Internet.
By Bruce T. Gourley
year Baptist Press, the
public relations arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, sends a fair-haired
and intrepid young pastor to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship general
assembly with orders to craft a negative article or two about the meeting. For
whatever reason, the SBC still considers CBF a threat and spends time and money
trying to make the moderate Baptist group look bad.
The annual CBF general
assembly took place last month, and this time around the young
pastor-posing-as-reporter seized on a breakout session led by Presbyterian
pastor and theologian John Killinger in which Killinger made statements
casting doubt as to the divinity of Jesus. Killinger's comments, according to
the young Southern Baptist pastor, reflect the
lurking within Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ranks. James Smith,
executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, followed up from afar by
declaring that CBF is neither Baptist nor Christian. CBF Coordinator Daniel
Vestal recently responded to the charges by stating that Killinger
does not speak
on behalf of CBF, and that CBF Baptists do embrace the divinity of Christ.
And has been noted in the past, Vestal reiterated that what is said in general
assembly breakout sessions does not necessarily reflect the views of CBF. He
also further noted that, now aware of Killinger's Christological views, he
wished the invitation to speak had not been extended to the Presbyterian
In light of this
theological dustup, the first and most obvious observation is that it is silly
and deceitful for anyone to equate a lone Presbyterian's personal opinions to
any group of Baptists.
Vestal is correct that Christology is important. The Christian faith hinges on
the person of Jesus Christ. For two thousand years Christians have struggled
to fully grasp the nature of Christ, and countless believers in the course of
history have been branded as heretics because the fine points of their
particular Christology did not square with the prevailing view of their era.
The discussion of
Christology is far from over. Indeed, the leadership of the Southern Baptist
Convention has been promoting weak Christology for years. SBC responses to
Killinger continue a pattern of positing Christ's divinity as the sole
effective foundation of orthodoxy. Such a singular-focused Christology is
inadequate, for no discussion of the nature of Christ is complete without
giving equal weight to the other dimension of Christ: his humanity. The 2000
Baptist Faith and Message statement, for example, speaks of Jesus as merely
adopting "human nature" and "identifying" with humankind, failing to affirm
Jesus as fully human as he was fully God. Recently, Al Mohler, one of the
authors of the BF&M 2000, after paying passing lip service to Jesus as "fully
human and fully divine," immediately turned around and forcefully argued that
focusing on Jesus' humanity is detrimental to his divinity.
While an aversion to
(perhaps fear of?) Jesus' humanity is readily found in SBC life, Southern
Baptist pastors and editors should be especially concerned that even greater
Christological heresy lurks openly within their own denomination: leaders of
the SBC are on record, in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, as
rejecting the Lordship of Christ over scripture and demoting Jesus from
the actual embodiment of God's revelation to humankind to the mere "focus of
It is odd indeed, not to
mention hypocritical, for fundamentalist Baptists to display indignant anger
over a Presbyterian's questioning of the divinity of Christ, even as they
express reservations about Jesus' humanity while proclaiming a limited Christ who
is less important than the biblical text and something less than the fullness
of divine revelation. Such a peculiar combination of Christological positions
results in a Jesus who is neither fully human nor fully divine.
Surely Baptist Press and
the Florida Baptist Witness will swiftly expose this denominational
heresy and pronounce the apostasy of the SBC.
Table of Contents
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 Pamela
Durso, Associate Executive Director / Treasurer of the Baptist History and
for the Future of Baptist Women Ministers"
By Pamela Durso
For the past three springs, I have researched and written, along
with Eileen Campbell-Reed, an annual report titled The State of
Women in Baptist Life, which Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM)
has commissioned and distributed. One of my responsibilities has
been to collect statistics, including information about women who
are serving as pastors and co-pastors, the percentages of students
in Baptist seminaries who are women, and the number of Baptist
women being ordained each year. What I have discovered is that
each year by early June I am discouraged and disappointed, because
I am reminded that women seem to have made only incremental
progress within Baptist life. This year I had that same
experience. In early June, I was disheartened because my list of
women pastors and co-pastors had shrunk from 117 to 113 and the
percentage of women serving in those roles in Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship churches had declined slightly.
recent days, however, I have had a change of heart. I am now more
hopeful than I have ever been about the state of women in
Baptist life. My change of heart is the result of several
experiences. On June 20, Eileen and I presented the finding of our
2007 report during a CBF breakout session, and we concluded our
presentation by taking questions. One woman, sitting at the back
of the room, shared the story of her calling. She told those of us
gathered that God had called her to ministry as a young girl but
she could not understand or accept that God truly wanted her to be
a minister. When she was in her mid-thirties, she said, God called
her again and this time God did not let go of her until she
answered that call. She enrolled in college and has just finished
her bachelor’s degree, and she now intends to go to seminary. By
the time she finished her story, she was in tears. The session
soon ended, and I quickly made my way to the back of the room only
to discover that two women pastors were already there with her.
They sat on each side of her, offering her words of compassion,
understanding, and encouragement, and the three of them walked out
the door together. I left the room smiling because I knew that the
woman had just encountered two supporters who would continue to
affirm her and encourage her in future days. That experience of
seeing Baptist women ministers in action, offering friendship and
care, renewed my hope in the future of Baptist women in ministry.
of my change-of -heart experiences took place during the CBF
General Assembly. Several of our more creative BWIM leaders came
up with the idea of producing
and selling T-shirts at our exhibit.
The eye-catching turquoise T-Shirts had the BWIM logo on the back,
but it was the message on the front that was truly eye-catching.
The T-Shirts read “THIS IS WHAT A PREACHER LOOKS LIKE.” BWIM sold
about 200 of the shirts, and everywhere—in the hallways, in the
worship services, and in breakout sessions—were women proudly
wearing the shirts. While I found the T-Shirt phenomena lots of
fun, what gave me great hope for the future was that we had
requests for the T-Shirt in children’s sizes. A father wanted his
young daughters to have a shirt. A young mother wanted to buy one
for her baby girl, and I smiled again having discovered that there
are Baptists who are open to and even dream about the possibility
that one day their daughters will preach the gospel.
final change-of-heart experience took place at
Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, June 22, which was
the final Sunday for LeAnn Gunter Johns as associate pastor of
that church. She had been on staff for six years, and the
following Tuesday she and her husband moved to California. LeAnn
and I have served together for the past three years on the BWIM
Leadership Team. This past year she served as the coordinator.
During those three years, I have discovered that LeAnn is a gifted
minister and an excellent leader, but I had never heard her preach
until June 22. On that day, I was the one who sat in the back
crying. In a sermon from Psalm 106 titled “Souvenirs and Stick
Notes: Revisited,” LeAnn spoke of the experiences of the
Israelites as they repeatedly abandoned God, only to be rescued
and forgiven. I cried as she called the much loved people in her
congregation to remember God’s faithfulness, God’s forgiveness,
and God’s offer of hope for the future. And I cried some more as
LeAnn spoke of the souvenirs that she would take with her as she
left Peachtree. Among those souvenirs is her ordination
certificate, which she said “helps remind me that God’s call to
ministry does not have to exist as a lone, isolated event but that
there are communities of faith that want to join in what God is
doing. . . . You as a church provided a rich, loving, and
nurturing environment. You opened your arms wide and said, ‘God’s
church is for you too, LeAnn.’”
As she concluded, LeAnn expressed her gratitude for Peachtree
Baptist Church, saying “You, like the psalmist, have remembered
God’s faithfulness in your past and are looking for God’s word to
you for the future. I’m thankful for a church whose purpose is
about loving all people and seeking to do the will of God
As I walked to my car that Sunday, my heart was full of hope.
Having heard a powerfully presented sermon and having received
communion blessed by a young woman who has been called and gifted
by God, my hope was restored that women ministers do indeed have a
future in Baptist life and that LeAnn Gunter Johns and scores of
other Baptist women can wear with confidence a T-Shirt proclaiming
“THIS IS WHAT A PREACHER LOOKS LIKE.”
Table of Contents
THE MERCER PREACHING
Co-sponsored by McAfee
School of Theology and
The Center for Baptist Studies
28-30 September 2008
The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort
Featuring Greg Boyd and Joel Gregory
Other program speakers include: David Gushee, John Finley,
Jayne Davis, Brett Younger and Michael Dixon
Registration is only $100 per person
Click here for more
information and to register.
Children's Ministry in the Local Church: Julie Whidden Long, Minister to Children and Families at First Baptist Church of Christ
in Macon, Georgia, understands the importance of children in life of the local
church. Rev. Long pens this six-month series examining children's ministry.
She is the author of the recently published book, Portraits
of Courage: Stories of Baptist Heroes (published by the Baptist
History and Heritage Society and Mercer University Press), a volume written
for older children.
Children Baptist Heritage"
By Julie Whidden Long
Baptist churches, the days of Baptist Young People's Union,
Training Union or other programs dedicated to
teaching Baptist heritage to children and youth are gone. Yet the
absence of Baptist heritage programs is not because congregations
do not deem such learning important. Children’s ministries
compete with school activities, local arts programs, sports, and
multiple other extra-curriculars for the attention of children. Often Bible study, music, discipleship, or missions education
offerings are the most that can be squeezed into the tight social
schedules of our churches’ families.
children Baptist heritage is important. Helping children
discover who we are and why we are as we are is not only crucial
for maintaining institutions with the “Baptist” name. Passing on
Baptist heritage continues the ideals and practices that we
Baptists believe are the best ways to respect and dignify all of
God’s children and to be the church, representing God in the
world. So how can churches reclaim the practice of teaching
children Baptist heritage?
should teach children Baptist heritage through osmosis. I do not
remember being explicitly taught Baptist distinctives as a child. But I did learn local church autonomy as I saw members speak their
hearts at church conferences. I discovered religious liberty from
a pastor who helped me research a school project on prayer in
public schools. I picked up on the concept of the priesthood of
all believers as I observed our entire congregation laying hands
upon deacons being ordained. If young people are to value our
Baptist heritage, they must be involved in churches that live it
out. Include them in the acts of the church that demonstrate our
Learning by experience is necessary, but churches should not rely
on children to absorb Baptist identity on their own. Churches
must be intentional about teaching children who we are in a way
that they can understand. Tell a story each week in Sunday School
about a Baptist hero who lived out Baptist ideals. Form a Baptist
heritage club that meets monthly to learn a new theme and be
assigned a take home action. Include reading a book about a
Baptist missionary or church leader as a part of their missions
curriculum. Take a field trip to visit a place important to
Baptist history or to visit a famous Baptist person
Remember that children are concrete learners. They may have
difficultly latching on to a concept like “liberty of conscience”
or “separation of church and state.” Help them experience
religious liberty by performing a skit about Roger Williams
founding Rhode Island. Make local church autonomy real by taking
them to a church conference and explaining how all church members
help to make decisions. Teach them the Baptist commitment to
missions by having them participate in a project to raise money
for a global missions endeavor.
good resources are available for teaching children Baptist
heritage. BaptistWay Press’s
Let’s Explore Baptist Beliefs is a full-color,
age-appropriate workbook that is wonderful for class settings or
special units. Judson Press’s
We are Baptists also offers several sessions on teaching
Baptist distinctives. Heritage Seekers magazine put out by the Center of Baptist
Heritage and Studies educates kids on Baptist history and themes. Baptist History and Heritage Society and Mercer University Press
recently published a book I authored entitled
of Courage: Stories of Baptist Heroes for older children
that tells the stories of 14 Baptist men and women who have lived
out the best of our Baptist ideals (note: this is not intended to
be a shameless plug).
We will never have time to teach our children all that we want to
pass down. But being intentional about using the opportunities we
have is crucial, both for the future of our children and of our
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Collegiate Ministry in Moderate Baptist Life:
The Center for Baptist Studies has taken a
personal interest in the future of collegiate ministry in moderate Baptist
llife. We are pleased to see significant strides in recent years. David
Weatherspoon, campus minister at Franklin College in Indiana, provides an
update on ways in which American Baptists and Cooperative Baptists are
partnering to minister to college students.
"American Baptists and
Cooperative Baptists Working Together"
By David Weatherspoon
On the campus of
Keuka College in the Fingerlakes Region of
American Baptist and Cooperative Baptist collegiate ministers met earlier this
month, June 2 thru June 5. In an effort to
strengthen each organizations’ collegiate ministry resources, sixteen members
of these two groups continued the partnership at Keuka forged last summer when
individuals from ABC and CBF college ministries gathered at First Baptist
Washington, D.C., to network and formulate strategies on ways to work together
effectively at the various campuses around the nation.
Annually, the American
Baptist Campus Minister’s Association hosts a gathering for its collegiate
ministers. Cooperative Baptist collegiate ministers were invited to
participate in this year’s meeting with the hope of continuing to meet as a
combined group in future meetings. With limited financial and personnel
resources allocated for collegiate ministry at the national level in both ABC
and CBF life, working together makes sense for these colleagues as they share
their ministry experiences, challenges, and insights.
do collegiate ministers do individually in their campus settings and
collectively when they unite? Ministers are often quizzed by other members of
society about what it is they do. Often collegiate ministers find themselves
answering similar questions from other ministers as well and are sometimes
asked the ever popular question, “Don’t you want to be a ‘real’ pastor
someday?” Although some may see the life of the college pastor as one who has
not fully grown into adult ministry, this is not at all the case, and the role
of the college minister could be argued as being vital to the future of church
leadership including in both ABC and CBF realms.
the functions of collegiate ministry is leadership development. Students are
challenged to wrestle with questions of who they are and what they believe on
campus, and navigating these necessary but difficult journeys can be scary. However, the campus pastor is the person many of these students trust to walk
with them during their college years and help them grow and understand their
own faith resources amidst these questions and how to utilize their God-given
gifts and abilities to aid the world around them.
As the students continue to develop and discover their ministerial identity,
they often take leadership roles on campus. Following their time in school,
many of these students become very active in churches and assume the tasks of
lay leaders and serve as deacons. Others discover a call to ministry through
campus ministry. Seminaries have a vested interest in the success of
collegiate ministry programs. Attending the recent gathering at Keuka, CBF
member and Director of Admissions at McAfee School of Theology, Ryan Clark,
said, “Students who come through a campus ministry program are more likely to
serve in full-time vocational ministry once they complete seminary.”
Therefore, the need for strong collegiate ministries is paramount to the
future ministry of the church, and gatherings such as the one this year at
Keuka are important for college ministers to participate, share ideals, and
fellowship. At Keuka in addition to getting to know each other, the group
also invited Dr. Janice Edwards-Armstrong, Director of Leadership Education at
the Association of Theological Studies, to share her research on Millennials,
the generation of students with whom collegiate ministers are now working and
hoping to prepare for ministry in the churches in the days to come.
The retreat is now an annual event, and we are hopeful that participation will
continue to increase. Next year's retreat will be June 22-25 at the Sierra
Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madra,
California. The cost is $300, and the event is open to all ABC and CBF
ministers who work with college students. Please contact David Weatherspoon at
Dweatherspoon@franklincollege.edu for more information.
Table of Contents
Books That Matter:
Over the next six months, reviews of books of interest to readers of the
Bulletin will be presented by Wil Platt. Wil is Professor of History,
Emeritus of Mercer University. In addition to his service in the Department
of History of the College of Liberal Arts from 1966 to 2000, he was assistant
or associate dean of the College for sixteen years. Since the fall of 2002,
he has been a volunteer for the Center for Baptist Studies and now serves as
Assistant to the Interim Director.
In Search of the New Testament Church: The
by C. Douglas Weaver
By Wil Platt
Many readers of this
Bulletin have had a college or seminary course in Baptist
history. I had a very good course with Professor Morgan Patterson
at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the late 1950s. Since
my Baptist roots were in
South Carolina, I had difficulty understanding why he spent so much time on
Landmarkism, a movement I had never encountered! But it was a very
good course, and I learned a lot (including why he spent so much
time on Landmarkism). Over the years, however, I have had to “brush
up on” my Baptist history.
Professor C. Douglas Weaver of
University and Mercer University Press have provided an excellent resource
for those who need to refresh and expand their knowledge of Baptist
history. Doug is director of Undergraduate Studies in the
Department of Religion at Baylor; he has taught Baptist history for
two decades and has written books and articles in the field. Regular readers of the Bulletin will recall that Doug
contributed a series of articles on Baptists and Presidential
Elections from January to June of this year. It is fitting that I
begin this series of reviews with his book because some of its
content was fashioned in the context of the Baptist Classics
Seminar, an annual meeting of selected Baptist historians at
University, begun by Founding Director of the Center for Baptist Studies,
Walter Shurden, and sponsored by the Center for Baptist Studies. In
just a few weeks, these scholars will gather again, this time to
discuss Baptist history from 1950 to the twenty-first century.
Professor Weaver chose an excellent
title for his work: In Search of the
Church: The Baptist Story. None
should assume that the book is purely topical rather
than comprehensive. Indeed, what Weaver has produced is a history
of Baptists from our beginnings in seventeenth-century
England to the twenty-first century. He deals with Baptists in the North
and the South and includes chapters on African-American Baptists and
Baptists as an international movement throughout the world. I
believe readers will be pleased to find that he has given careful
attention to the role of women in Baptist life. Obviously, there is
a limit to how much detail could be packed into a book of
approximately 250 pages, but readers will not be disappointed with
his coverage—from John Smyth to Jerry Falwell. For those who want
to dig deeper into various aspects of Baptist history, Dr. Weaver
has given a wealth of sources, including an excellent bibliographical essay for
each chapter of the book.
other one-volume surveys of Baptist history with his thesis: the search for the New Testament church has been the driving force
in Baptist life. The search has been conducted by people across a
wide spectrum, from conservative to liberal. He recognizes, of
course, that the search has not been unique to Baptists; among
others, it stimulated the efforts of the Christian Church in the
nineteenth century and Pentecostalism in the twentieth. He also
recognizes that social, political and cultural factors influenced
the Baptist story.
for the New Testament church led some (J. R. Graves is the best
example) to the conclusion that it is possible to trace a direct
link from modern-day Baptists to the “First Baptist Church of
Jerusalem.” Most searchers were interested in finding practices
that were identified as critical links to the New Testament
experience. For John Smyth, believer’s baptism was the link; for
others, a different practice was believed to be commanded by the New
Testament account. The result has been the creation of an array of
practices and concepts. Over the course of our history, Baptists
have been identified with a number of distinctives: a regenerate
church membership, baptism by immersion, the priesthood of
believers, congregational polity, religious freedom and freedom of
conscience and separation of church and state to name just a few. Professor Weaver’s book does a good job of unraveling the Baptist
story in all its complexity and diversity.
to "brush up on" your Baptist history? Order your copy of Doug
Weaver's book today from
For a limited time, the Press will give a 30% discount. (Mention the
discount in the Special Instructions section of the online order
form; the discount will be applied when your order is
received.) This book will serve well for personal enlightenment and
reference use or as a text in college or seminary classes.
Table of Contents
The Baptist Studies
Bulletin Recommends ...
Shurden's Preaching Journal, published several times a year and
available by email upon request (click
here), is an insightful, thought-provoking publication drawn from
Shurden's deep well of wisdom and experience, as well as his ongoing
attentiveness to current events.
Following is an excerpt from the most recent edition of the
A QUESTION I ASKED ROLAND BAINTON:
I once asked Roland Bainton, author of the
magnificent biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand, and distinguished
professor of church history at Yale for decades, “Who are your most
distinguished graduates and students?” Obviously asked that question many
times, he sighed, “Oh, these Nobel prizes for ministers that I have to give!”
“Who knows?” he asked, “Is it the obscure missionary who has worked faithfully
for a lifetime in an African country and with little to show for it or is it
the New England pastor who has labored out of the glare of celebrity lights in
small parishes for over 50 years?” “How do you categorize Christian
faithfulness?” he asked.
indicted, I promised myself never to ask that one again. Dr. Bainton made me
aware of many, many faithful ministers who minister daily, cheerfully, in out
of the way places; they never get to speak on the denominational programs;
they don’t write books of any kind, they don’t receive awards. All they do is
visit the sick and dying, pray as best they can, counsel the bereaved, bring
words of encouragement at the youth retreat, help prepare for Vacation Bible
School, study the Bible and human nature to preach, give thanks for the
opportunity of speaking God’s word, and get up again on Monday morning and
start all over with quiet discipleship and faithful ministry. To God be glory!
And can you
not say as much about some of the devout laity within your own church?
Note: Walter Shurden, in conjunction with Associated
Baptist Press, will be leading a
Heritage Tour of New England October 3-8, 2008, out of
Providence, Rhode Island. The cost is $1609 per person. For more
registration form and lodging information (Courtyard by Marriott in Providence).
Recommended Online Reading
for Informed Baptists
Compiled by Bruce Gourley
Reclaim Noble Heritage
by Gary Burton in the Montgomery Advertiser, AL (July 2008)
"In 2009 Baptists will observe their 400th anniversary. Baptists
emerged in 1609 as an identifiable faith community. Those who were part of the
small, fragile congregation could not have envisioned the contemporary Baptist
scene with its 43 million people in more than 200 countries. Now the largest
Protestant denomination in North America, Baptists have covered the Deep South
like kudzu. Today, however, most Baptists know little or nothing of John
Smyth's 1609 leadership of the first Baptist congregation in Amsterdam or of
Thomas Helwys' 1612 leadership of the first Baptist church on English soil
outside of London." (read
the rest of this article)
By Lisa Miller and Richard Wolffe (July 2008)
“So much has been made about Barack Obama's religion. But what does he
believe, and how did he arrive at those beliefs?"
Dates to Note
July 16-19, 2008, British Baptist
Historical Society Centenary Conference, International Baptist Theological
Seminary, Prague. Theme: Baptists and the World: Renewing the Vision.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Bill Leonard. Click here for more
information and registration information.
July 26-29, 2008, The Baptist International
Conference on Theological Education (BICTE), Prague, Czech Republic. Visit
the event website for more
September 28-30, 2008, Mercer Preaching
Consultation 2008, King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort, St. Simons Island,
Georgia. Co-sponsored by McAfee School of Theology and the Center for
Baptist Studies. Featured speakers include Dr. Greg Boyd and Dr. Joel
Gregory. See advertisement above for more information.
October 3-8, 2008, Baptist Heritage Tour of New
England with featured tour guide Walter Shurden, former Executive Director of
The Center for Baptist Studies.
for registration and more information.
If you know of a Baptist event that needs to be added to
this list, please
let us know. For a full calendar of Baptist events, visit the
Online Baptist Community Calendar.
Table Of Contents
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