Vol. 8 No. 7

  The Jesse Mercer Plaza
  Mercer University, Macon Campus 


Produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University
A Monthly EMagazine, Bridging Baptists Yesterday and Today

Bruce T. Gourley, Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin

Wil Platt, Associate Editor, The Baptist Studies Bulletin




In Response To . . . : Bruce T. Gourley

         "Baptist Transitions"

Celebrating 400 Years of Being Baptist: A Free Church Bulletin Insert Series

         "The Preaching of the Gospel: A Baptist Tradition"

The Baptist Soapbox: Pamela R. Durso

         "Baptist Women in Ministry: Telling the Story"

The Baptist Heritage: Milestones

          Review and Expositor: 100 Years and Counting
Gerald L. Keown

Mercer Preaching Consultation 2009

          King and Prince Resort, St. Simons Island
          September 27-29, 2009


Dates to Note: Baptist Events Calendar

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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. His most recent book, Leading the Way For 200 Years: The Story of The First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama, 1809-2009, was published this month. In addition, he is involved in a number of areas of moderate Baptist life through the medium of the Internet.

"Baptist Transitions"
By Bruce T. Gourley

          Always a people in transition, Baptists every so often face particularly notable demarcations. Major historical Baptist watersheds include the successful conclusion of over 150 years of advocacy for religious liberty and separation of church and state in America (as well as the end of Baptist persecution under colonial theocracies) in the ratification of the Baptist-influenced First Amendment to the Constitution to the United States in 1791; the parallel formation of national Baptist denominations and missionary societies in 1792 (the Baptist Missionary Society in England) and 1814 (the "Triennial Convention" in America); the creation of the Baptist World Alliance in 1905; and the Baptist-influenced American Civil Rights Act of 1964.
           Other transitions, albeit not as grand in scope, are nonetheless remarkable. The regional split among Baptists in America evidenced by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 and the reconciliation of English General and Particular Baptists in the Baptist Union of Great Britain in 1891 are two such examples. On another level, changes routinely take place within specific Baptist groups (such as the urbanization of Southern Baptists in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries), while pressure from larger religious trends (such as the revivalist eras of the early eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) reshape Baptists from the outside.
           The common thread in all of these examples is that notable Baptist transitions of the past were anchored at the grassroots level, a reflection of the importance of individual believers and local congregations. John Smyth (a clergyman) and Thomas Helwys (a layman) founded the world's first Baptist church and from that pioneering congregation first sounded the Baptist cry for religious freedom. A shoemaker-turned-pastor, William Carey, provided the daring and impetus to form the first Baptist missionary society, in turn crystallizing Baptists into national denominational structures.  The disaffiliation from the Baptist Union of Great Britain of Calvinist Charles Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle, coupled with the ascendancy of General Baptist pastor John Clifford, paved the way for Particular and General Baptists to unite in England. Clifford's influence, in turn, coupled with the vision of John Prestridge, a Baptist newspaper editor in Kentucky, played a key role in the formation of the Baptist World Alliance. Individual slave-holders, influential in their respective southern churches, agitated for the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention. The influence of the great revivals within Baptist life was most evidenced in the growth of local churches, while the urbanization of Baptists in the American South, driven by the rise of southern cities, was visualized in church architecture and worship styles.
           Today's Baptists in America (both traditional and fundamentalist) struggle with their own buffet of changes, collectively spread across theological and ecclesiological axes and infused with contemporary politics, culture and generational differences. Are we experiencing the throes of another major demarcation across the Baptist landscape, a less remarkable yet important overarching transition, or more localized group-centric shifts resulting from internal rumblings and/or outward pressures?
            Where will these changes be evident during Baptists' fifth century? Will the Baptist future be housed in cavernous buildings designed for entertainment, aging small town chapels, or neighborhood homes and coffee shops? Has our theology circled back four centuries to appropriate Calvin's Geneva and the Pope's authority, waded deeper into the unfolding narratives of contemporary global perspectives, or become entrenched in the populist grip of a literal Genesis and figurative Revelation? Will our relationships be lived out in inclusive communities of equals, dictated by self-assured captains of imperial pulpits, or isolated in spiritual foxholes governed by gender hierarchy? Will our historic commitment to religious liberty and separation of church and state experience renewal in the globally-pluralistic world streaming into our laptops and iPhones, drown beneath the clashing waves of religious warfare and theocratic ambitions, or hover uneasily in the safety of political correctness and the shadow of religious comfort?
             Some of the best of Baptist ideas and work were conceived in the midst of challenges and birthed via transitions. We may not be able to see clearly yet the changes now enveloping us, but I am hopeful that great ideas and meaningful work await the Baptist family in its fifth century.

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Celebrating 400 Years of Being Baptist:  The Center for Baptist Studies and the Baptist History and Heritage Society present a twelve-month series of free church bulletin inserts for use in teaching Baptist heritage in the local church during the 400 year anniversary of Baptists. The image below is a copy of one side of this month's pdf document.  You can view each month's feature (in pdf format) here.

Bulletins are
material and
can only be
used for
within a church.
For permission
to reprint any
text or images,
please contact:

Pamela R. Durso 
by email at
or by phone at (678) 547-6095.

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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, newly-elected Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry.

"Baptist Women in Ministry: Telling the Story"
By Pamela R. Durso

             This past spring, as the Baptist Women in Ministry’s Leadership Team began to dream together, we talked about the future of the organization. We spoke out loud all the possibilities, but the dreaming and talking did not remain simply as words and ideas. They soon took on life as this amazing group of women chose to move ahead and to take a step of faith, and now in July 2009, after months of conversation and prayer, what began as a dream has become a reality.
             Throughout the process, I have been reminded over and over again that God has been moving ahead of us, preparing the way and that God has been calling BWIM, its leaders, its supporters to step out in faith and to move into new territory. And I have had moments during these past months in which I have seen and heard and felt the spirit of God working and moving and leading through the voices and actions and decisions of seven amazing women ministers.
             So what are our dreams? What is the future of BWIM? I am convinced that as an organization, BWIM needs to be telling stories. As committed Baptists, as faithful Christians, as ministers of the gospel, as women and men of faith, we all need to be telling the stories of our faith.
             We need to tell the story of Jesus gathering the girls and boys and blessing them . . . and reminding his disciples that “to such as these belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:15-17). We need to tell that story to the little girls in our churches and communities . . . and we need to nurture them in the faith, to love them and encourage them as they become Christ followers.
             We need to tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene and his instructions to her to “go and tell.” We need to tell that story to our middle school girls and high school girls. We need to sit with them, listen to them, walk with them so that if they hear that calling to “go and tell,” they will be open to those words, they will have opportunity to explore that those words mean. We need to provide them with places and times to talk about and to express their ministry gifts. We need to encourage them to preach and teach and sing and pray and lead and serve. We need to be communities in which girls and young women can hear and explore God’s call.
             We need to tell the story of Jesus—sitting quietly teaching in the home of Mary and Martha.  We need to tell of his inclusion of Mary in his circle of students. We need to tell our female seminarians this story—to assure them that they too are included in the circle and they need to study and learn. And we must, as churches and as a BWIM organization, find ways to enhance their educational experiences and encourage their development of their gifts and skills. We need to provide words of affirmation, prayers of encouragement, and financial assistance, and when they are ready, we need to provide for them places of service. We need to open the doors of our churches, the doors of our ministries, the doors of our hearts and welcome them in.
             We need to tell the story of Jesus and the women who walked with him, the women who were included in his ministry, the women  whose names are listed in Luke’s gospel (Luke 8:2-3) . . . Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna.  We need to tell this story to each other—of these women who were faithful in following Christ, who participated in his kingdom work, who supported and contributed to the spread of the gospel. We need to tell the story of these women who served together, who became partners in ministry, whose lives became entwined as they walked dusty roads, talking, listening, and praying. We need to tell this story to young ministers beginning their journey who need our affirmation and care, to ministers who have been walking on the road for a while and need encouragement and support, and to ministers who have spent their lives serving and who need to hear our words of gratitude for their pioneering faith and work.
The year 2009 is a critical moment in time for BWIM as an organization and for Baptists who believe in and affirm that God’s calling may be heard and lived out by women and men. We are headed into new territory, walking a new, unknown path, and as we travel together we have stories to tell, we have stories to share with one another, but we are also called to be part of the story of Jesus. We are called to live out that story.

Excerpted from a Homily presented July 2, 2009 at the Baptist Women in Ministry Gathering, South Main Baptist Church, Houston, Texas.

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The Baptist Heritage: Milestones:  This month we focus on an academic journal that has long served the Baptist community while experiencing significant transition. Gerald L. Keown, professor of Old Testament and Associate Dean of the M. Christopher White School of Divinity of Gardner-Webb University.

"Review and Expositor: 100 Years and Counting"
By Gerald L. Keown

                The Review & Expositor, for most of its first one hundred years of existence, served as the journal of the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Louisville, Kentucky. As its name suggests, the initial goal was to provide a resource for ministers which offered an evaluation of books which could prove helpful in ministry as well as exposition of biblical texts. Significant portions of early issues were devoted to reviews. E. Y. Mullins, in the first issue of the journal in April of 1904, stressed the importance of a forum in which diverse perspectives could be voiced in areas of theological significance, diversity which would even include non-Baptist voices. Over time the nature of the journal underwent change, though reviews of published materials have consistently been a part of each issue and the goal of providing informed discussion of important issues has been retained.
     As denominational controversy began to threaten the atmosphere of open inquiry that had long characterized the seminary, a key decision regarding the journal was made by its editorial board, with the courageous support of seminary president Roy Honeycutt. The journal became independently incorporated under Kentucky law. The change did little to alter the nature of the journal. Content decisions and issue planning had long been the province of the editorial board without interference from the seminary administration. The Review & Expositor continued to function as the journal of the faculty of Southern Seminary, but the emphasis shifted slightly to give greater importance to "journal of the faculty."
When control of Southern Seminary shifted completely to the fundamentalist trustees, the journal moved off campus and functioned much as it always had, producing quarterly issues that attempted to address matters of concern to the church and its ministry. For several decades, the journal has been thematic in focus. That is, the Editorial Board introduces key concerns which are perceived to be worthwhile for consideration as the theme of an upcoming issue of the journal. Faculty persons qualified to serve as issue editor are identified who then begin the task of securing writers for the various articles to be included in the issue.
                The dramatic changes in Baptist life as a result of denominational conflict included the emergence of a number of new seminaries and divinity schools. The Baptist Theological Seminary at
Richmond was the first, a step of faith initiated by the Alliance of Baptists and other key supporters of theological education. It was followed by other "starts," most affiliated with already established Baptist universities. The resulting institutions were much smaller than the flagship seminaries of the past, but offered the opportunity for men and women seeking to prepare for ministry to do so in an atmosphere which encouraged diverse perspectives across the theological spectrum.
It soon became clear that the Review & Expositor could no longer continue without dramatic changes. What was proposed was dramatic indeed. In 1996, the journal, over a period of several months and with the careful oversight of managing editor Dan Stiver and the Editorial Board at the time, offered invitations to the new seminaries and divinity schools to enter into a consortium agreement that would then continue the mission of the journal. The Review & Expositor went through a transition from the journal of the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to the journal of the faculties of the consortium schools.
                The consortium consisted of two tiers. Sponsor institutions made a one-time donation and agreed to provide annual financial support for the journal's operation. In return, each sponsor institution was allowed two members to function as part of the Editorial Board. Patron institutions made no lump sum contributions to the journal, but provided a similar level of annual financial support for the operations of the journal. Patron institutions were allowed one member on the Editorial Board. The Southern Seminary "tradition" was initially given three positions on the Board, reduced to two after the first five years of the consortium. (These were usually retired faculty from Southern Seminary who were still located in the
Louisville area.) Initial Sponsor institutions were the Baptist Seminary at Richmond, Truett Seminary of Baylor University, and McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University. Patron institutions were Logsdon School of Theology of Hardin-Simmons University, and the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University. At its founding as a divinity school in 1997, Campbell University School of Divinity became a patron institution, followed later by Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Kansas City, KS, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lombard, IL.
Truett Seminary ended its relationship with the journal in 2001. In 2002, Campbell University School of Divinity moved from a Patron institution to a Sponsor institution.
                The challenges facing all print journals continue to confront the Review & Expositor. In an increasingly digital and media age, the Editorial Board has recognized the necessity to adapt. Several sessions with focus groups from around the country provided input to the board regarding both positive and negative aspects of the journal in its current form. A repeated refrain echoed by a number of the participants in the focus groups concerned the problems associated with printed matter which readers considered too esoteric or technical. Ministers in the conversation pleaded for resources which included pragmatic elements useful in the hectic world of the modern church. That included a request for readability and articles that could be read quickly. In other words, no 35 page articles need apply!
                The Editorial Board has attempted to respond to such input in a number of ways without forfeiting what it believes to be the long-term strengths of the journal. There have been several changes reflected in recent issues and they are to be included in the future. Two brief essays now begin each issue. The first is entitled A Word From .... The intent of this essay is to provide a forum in which a notable voice can be heard. Glenn Hinson, long time professor of Church History at Southern Seminary, and Editorial Board member of the journal for many years, provided the first series of essays. Recently, Walter Shurden of
Mercer University offered a series of four essays. Tony Campolo has also contributed a year's worth of such essays.
The second essay is entitled A Word About .... and focuses attention on matters of contemporary significance as identified by faculty members from the various consortium institutions. The author of this essay changes issue to issue.
                Another change for the journal involves varying options for receiving its content. Electronic subscriptions are now available instead of or in addition to print subscriptions. CDROM collections of the past ten years of the journal are now available. Soon, the 50 years of Bible study issues will be collected into a DVD format which will be available for interested persons. The journal website,, is also designed to allow communication regarding subscriptions, even payment for any Review & Expositor item via Paypal.
                 Issues recently published address such timely themes as Jewish-Christian Dialogue, Muslim-Christian Relations, an issue on Bowen Family Systems, and an issue devoted to the Baptist World Alliance. The Editorial Board of the journal makes a concerted effort to be true to the storied legacy of this historic journal while adapting its presentation so as to provide resources that assist ministry practitioners in the hectic and demanding world of the 21st century.
                 For over a hundred years, the Review & Expositor has been one of the most respected and influential journals in the
United States, with impact around the world. The title of this essay is “The Review and Expositor: 100 Years and Counting.” If you are a free and faithful Baptist, or simply a thinking Christian, consider examining the sample issues available on the website and consider assisting in the continuation of the valuable heritage that is the Review & Expositor.

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30% Discount on this new title from Baylor University Press

The Acts of the Apostles:
Four Centuries of Baptist Interpretation

Edited by Beth Allison Barr, Bill J. Leonard, Mikeal C. Parsons, and C. Douglas Weaver

This groundbreaking work of research contains examples of specific ways that Baptists have used Acts in their confessions, sermons, tracts, commentaries, monographs, devotional and denominational literature, hymns, and speeches. Including the entirety of the Acts as translated by Helen Barrett Montgomery, this commentary beautifully illustrates the diversity of Baptist responses to this book of Scripture.

“This is a path-breaking scholarly undertaking. For Baptists, it is important for showing the scriptural reasoning that underlies their denominational existence. For New Testament scholars, it helpfully examines the ways the text has been interpreted throughout the denomination’s history.” — David W. Bebbington, University of Stirling

$99.95 $69.95 discount price / 978-1-60258-186-9 / Cloth / 7x10 / 1000 pages / Available July 2009

To receive the discount price: Contact Hopkins Fulfillment Service at 1-800-537-5487 or order online at  Use the discount code "ACT."



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Featured Speakers

Registration is $100 per person and is on a first-come, first-served basis.

A golf outing is planned for Monday afternoon.

Questions regarding registration or lodging? Contact Diane Frazier by calling (678) 547-6470, or by e-mailing



Recommended Online Reading
Compiled by Bruce Gourley

A Plantation to Be Proud Of
New York Times

"Providence Plantations’ founder, the young Puritan theologian Roger Williams, arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631. The Boston church immediately offered him a job as a minister, which he turned down because he deemed the congregation not quite puritanical enough. In a community of religious fanatics, the outspoken Williams became the guy who all the other Puritans wished would lighten up about religion."

Highest Freedom is Freely Giving Self to God, Baptist Historian Says
Baptist Standard

"Baptists must aspire to the kind of freedom that leads them to relinquish their autonomy to God, historian Walter Shurden told participants at the William H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society’s annual meeting. Shurden received the society’s 2009 Courage Award in Houston July 2. He recently retired as a professor and department chair of Christianity at Mercer University and as founding executive director of Mercer’s Center for Baptist Studies."

'Family': Fundamentalism in High Places
National Public Radio

“In the book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, author Jeff Sharlet examines the power wielded by a secretive Christian group known as the Family, or the Fellowship.”

At 200 Years, Bible Society Reenacts Start
Boston Globe

“What we’ve been trying to do is figure out where we go for the future, and figure out the electronic means of spreading the Bible,’’ he said. “Two hundred years ago, the purpose was to give out Bibles, but today people have Bibles, so that’s not a big deal. The question is, how do we make it usable?”


Dates to Note: Baptist Events Calendar

July 20-25, 2009, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America annual conference, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah.  More information.

August 6-7, 2009, New Baptist Covenant Midwest Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma. Guest speakers include former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. More information.

September 24-25, 2009, Baylor Conference on History, Philosophy, or Practice of Baptist Church Music.  Email Dr. David W. Music at for more information.

September 25-27, 2009, Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada, a weekend celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Baptist Movement and the 200th Anniversary of First Baptist Church, Amherst, sponsored by the Atlantic Baptist Fellowship and First Baptist Church, Amherst, NS. Featured speakers include Drs. Peter Paris, William Brackney and Roger H. Prentice. Click here for more information.

September 27-29, 2009, Mercer Preaching Consultation, King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia.  Featured speaker: Dr. Walter Brueggemann. To register or for more information, contact Terri Massey by email or phone her at 478.301.2943.

October 1-3, Pruit Memorial Symposium, Baylor University. Topic: "Religion, Politics and Society: The Baptist Contribution." Featured speakers: Nancy Ammerman, Randall Balmer, Fisher Humphreys.

July 28-August 1, 2010, 20th Baptist World Congress of the Baptist World Alliance, Honolulu, Hawaii.  Registration is now open. More information.

If you know of a Baptist event that needs to be added to this list, please let us know.

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