Chapter 6: WE ARE SHAPED BY OUR HISTORY

Introducing Southern Baptists©
C. B. Hastings
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Baptists have continually amazed others, especially their friends in Christian denominations which have a hierarchical or connectional structure. On the one hand our principle of local church autonomy makes it possible for more than two dozen Baptist bodies to exist side-by-side in the United States alone. On the other hand, these autonomous churches can affiliate in such a way as to produce the largest corps of missionaries of any Protestant denomination. They have a strong tendency to be anti-intellectual, yet they have spawned more colleges and larger seminaries than most. There is no Baptist body that can exercise jurisdiction over any church or any other Baptist body, yet they are probably more unified in their doctrine and polity than those denominations which frame church laws. With the widest possible range of education in their ministers and greatest freedom of individual interpretation of the Scriptures, Southern Baptists are generally conservative in doctrine. Even their so-called "liberals" would seem no more than middle-of-the-road when compared with some liberal Protestants.

There is wide diversity in worship styles, continuing debate over the gospel and social strategies, and ever-recurring efforts on the part of some to impose a kind of creedal orthodoxy. But Baptists have learned to live with such diversity because they have come to unite, not around a creed or code, but on the basis of a common commission of the Lord: "Go ye . . . make disciples . . . teaching them . . . all things" (Matt. 28:19-20).

The secret then of Baptist progress is the common loyalty to a divinely given action program. When the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in 1845 the preamble to the constitution it adopted stated its purpose of "organizing a plan for eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel...." This was later further defined as consisting of "missions, education, and benevolence." Thus, with no authority to intervene in the internal affairs of local churches or other Baptist bodies, the Convention has been free to devote its growing energies to cooperative endeavors that center upon proclamation of the Gospel and ministry to human needs.

How did these "peculiar people" come to be (a term Baptists like to use of themselves with a bit of tongue in cheek, drawn from I Peter 2:9, King James Version)? How have they learned to work together? Why are they so insistent upon "separation of Church and State"? Finally, are they becoming more socially aware and involved? These will be the subjects of Part III.

To render an adequate account of Baptist history is beyond the scope of this book and the capabilities of its author. I can only hope to sketch briefly our origins, the main lines of development and the movements that continue to influence Baptist life. The latter is essential to understanding many of the attitudes today of Baptists toward other Christian groups. Again, because our focus is upon the heritage of Southern Baptists, apologies are needed for the omission of those vital movements that produced the more than twelve million Baptists in other conventions and associations in America. (The interested reader is referred to the bibliography herein.)

A. THE EARLY BEGINNINGS

Caught up in the debate over the "one, true Church," some early Baptist historians sought to prove that Baptists have had continuous existence through many different dissenting groups all the way back to New Testament times. Some of these groups held to the principle of the Scriptures as their only authority. Others held to baptism (but not necessarily by immersion) for believers only. Others held to a radical separation from State and society One of the few things they held in common was dissent from the established church and the consequent persecutions by both Catholic authorities and Reformers. With the maturing of historical research today, few Baptist historians would try to establish such linear connectionalism.

There is better claim to spiritual, but not organizational kinship with the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century in Northern Europe. While the early Baptists agreed with the Anabaptists on the authority of the Scriptures and believers' baptism, they did not agree with them on their radical renunciation of political oaths and office-holding. Nor did they join in some of the extreme millennial views that produced such terrible slaughter in the Muenster Rebellion in 1535. Contemporary historical research has well established the fact that such armed rebellions did not represent the main body even of Anabaptists, and certainly not of the later Mennonites.'

The Puritan movement within the Anglican Church of the sixteenth century in England produced the Separatists, who desired to break with the established church in order to call out believers from the "corrupt establishment." They no longer hoped for any lasting reform within the Anglican fold and so moved toward a "gathered community" of believers bound together by covenant. One of the Separatists was Francis Johnson who taught in Christ's College at Cambridge in 1586 a young student for the Anglican priesthood named John Smyth. In 1600 Smyth was elected preacher of Lincoln. By 1606 he was in his home village of Gainsborough, where a Separatist church was about to divide. One group at Scrooby Manor became the Pilgrim Church that eventually came to America. There Smyth and Thomas Helwys began to question the practice of infant baptism. They came to the conclusion that only believers should be baptized, so Smyth first baptized himself and then led some forty persons of the congregation to be baptized by effusion. Soon he questioned this self-baptism and together with the majority approached the Waterlander Mennonites for admission.

Thomas Helwys, however, with a small group around 1612 returned to England and established the first Baptist church in that country at Spitalfield, just outside London. Since Smyth died the same year, Helwys' group actually becomes the beginning of continuous Baptist life. For his writings and his preaching Helwys was imprisoned, and he died in 1616. His leadership was assumed by John Murton and soon there were forty-seven General Baptist churches, Armenian in theology, evangelistic in purpose, and dedicated to religious liberty, even at the price of severe persecution at the hands of Archbishop Laud in the reign of Charles I.3

The Particular Baptists, who accepted Calvin's view that Christ's atonement was only for the elect, had a different origin. A Separatist congregation led by Henry Jacob was organized at Southwark, near London, in 1616. Several leaders of this congregation, including Jacob, at various times before 1640 sought freedom from persecution by migrating to America, but they met the same in the new land, this time from the early colonists who themselves fled England for religious freedom.

Torbet describes both of these groups as Baptists: "English Baptists of the seventeenth century were clear on what makes a true church. They regarded the church as a gathered community of redeemed men and women who had covenanted to walk together under the discipline of the Word of God and, with a properly appointed leadership, to proclaim the gospel and observe regularly the ordinances. Believer's baptism became the symbol of their identification with the risen Christ through the experience of individual conversion."4

By 1638 those Baptists who insisted on baptism for professed believers only came together under John Spilsbury to form the first Particular Baptist church. In 1640 they became concerned over the proper mode of baptism. Led by Richard Blunt they "became convinced that baptism by sprinkling or pouring, whether administered to believers or adults, or to infants, was not the true form of baptism employed in the time of the apostles, but that true baptism 'ought to be by diping [sic] the Body into the Water, resembling Burial & rising again.

Blunt found a small group of Mennonites at Rhyusburg in Holland who practiced immersion. From them he took instructions back to his congregation. There he baptized the "teacher," Mr. Blacklock, and was baptized by him. Together they baptized by immersion "the rest of their friends that were so minded, and many being added to them they increased much."6

Baptist churches have long puzzled other Christians by their paradoxes: autonomous congregations and denominational cohesiveness; individual interpretation of Scripture and stability of doctrinal beliefs; independence that spawns new churches and institutions coupled with a sense of interdependence that develops unity of mission effort. From their earliest beginnings they have felt the need for some kind of connectional relations. At first the motivation for fellowship among churches was primarily defensive. They were trying to survive in a society that saw the free church system as a threat to its basic political, economic and ecclesiastical unity. And the rejection of infant baptism implied not only a judgment that all others were not Christian, but also a heresy beyond the control of both State and Church. Truly the world was not yet ready for religious liberty and the pluralism of a free Church in a free State.

So the tiny Baptist churches were driven by inner necessity to form associations for mutual encouragement and guidance and for defining themselves to a hostile world. At annual meetings of "messengers from the churches" there would be inquiries related to matters of doctrine or discipline. In 1644 a group of seven churches at London produced a confession of faith as one of the earliest efforts of several churches to declare their true identity. Its apologetic character is seen by the title page of the 1646 edition: "Published for the vindication of the Truth, and Information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off of those Aspersions which are frequently both in Pulpit and Print unjustly cast upon them."' Within one generation Baptists had grown in numbers and in acceptance sufficiently to seek favor with other Dissenters in England by the London Confession of 1677, produced by messengers from more than one hundred churches in England and Wales. While greatly influenced by the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of 1648, it maintained a strong force in all later Baptist confessions, including those produced in America.

B. THE MOVE TO THE NEW WORLD

Baptists have never felt much need for authoritative connections in establishing new churches. The planting of Baptist churches in the New World is a good example. Many who figured largely in those early American churches became Baptists out of other communions over such issues as forced conformity to an established religion, or doubts over the current attempts to reform or purify the extant churches. Other Baptists from England and Wales came, not as congregations, but as refugees from the persecutions and burdens of the Old World.

Roger Williams is generally accepted as the Baptist pioneer in the New World. He came as an ordained Anglican priest to Boston in 1631 at the age of twenty-eight. A graduate of Cambridge and a protege of the influential lawyer, Sir Edward Coke, he seemed a choice prospect to become a prominent teacher and pastor in the Puritan churches. But he soon alienated all of the Massachusetts Bay churches by his radical views.

Hounded out of Boston, Salem and Plymouth in succession, he made his way in the dead of winter with the help of those Indian tribes he had befriended to the head of Narragansett Bay. Together with his small family and four men he founded Providence, buying the land from the Narragansett Indians. The settlement soon attracted other Dissenters, and in 1638 the Colony of Rhode Island was formed. The Compact expressly recognized complete freedom for all, with no religious tests being required for any civil rights.

Williams led the little band to search the Scriptures for the true pattern of the Church. Soon they became convinced that infant baptism was not justified by the New Testament and so chose believer's baptism. One Ezekiel Holliman came forward expressing this new commitment. In the absence of anyone so baptized he then baptized Roger Williams, who in turn baptized Holliman and ten others in March, 1639.

Williams in a few months became dissatisfied with his action and soon pulled out of the congregation. The rest of his life he called himself a "Seeker." While he was hardly a Baptist in name very long, he laid the foundation for the first civil government anywhere in the Western world based on full religious liberty. His mantle as leader of Baptists soon fell to Dr. John Clarke, who also had fled the religious strictures of Massachusetts Bay. Williams assisted Clarke and his band of emigrees to buy land from the Indians and establish the second Baptist church in the new land, perhaps as early as late 1639.

Baptists from England and Wales were also attracted to the colonies of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where they found more freedom than in New England. It was in Philadelphia in 1707 that the first Baptist association was formed by five churches, one the Welsh Tract Church having been organized in Wales and moved as a body to nearby Delaware. This association produced the first confession of faith in 1742, an adaptation of the Calvinistic Second London Confession of 1677. By 1767 five other associations were formed in North and South Carolina Virginia and Rhode Island.

C. THE FIRST CONVENTION ORGANIZED FOR MISSIONS

Mutual encouragement, fellowship and counsel were the original motives of these groups of churches. The annual meeting of the association of churches became a time of exchange of letters from each church read to the assembly describing the progress and problems of the isolated congregations. Often requests for interpretation of doctrines and problems of discipline were sent to the assembly. Out of this grew the practice of assigning to a different preacher a doctrinal sermon and later a missionary sermon. Out of the expressed needs for trained pastors grew the establishing of schools and colleges. Financial support was often raised for missionaries in new fields. But this was sporadic and meager until the coming of Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice.

Before 1814 Baptists in America had shared to some extent in missionary societies, such as the Massachusetts Domestic Missionary Society, formed in 1802 to evangelize the Indians. Anyone who paid as much as a dollar a year could be a member regardless of his denominational affiliation. The annual meetings of such donors as could attend elected trustees, set policies and appointed missionaries. These societies had as their pattern such bodies as the London Missionary Society, which in 1792 sent out as its first missionary to India the great pioneer, William Carey. As a method of missionary cooperation this plan appealed to the highly individualistic Baptists, because it completely avoided any tendency toward a connectionalism which might usurp the authority and independence of local congregations.

Baptists shared in the financial support of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, established in 1812 by the Congregationalists, and helped send two of their number to India. Traveling separately and knowing they must encounter William Carey's Baptist views on believer's baptism, Judson and Rice each came to accept those views from their in" Cor ?????

dependent study of the Greek New Testament. Soon after arriving in Serampore they requested believer's baptism by Carey and sent their resignations as Congregational missionaries to the American Board. When Judson chose to develop missions in Burma it became necessary for Rice to return to the States to seek support for this mission suddenly thrust upon Baptists. Supported at first by a local society in Boston, Rice was able to stir up interest in the Baptist strongholds of Philadelphia, Charleston and Savannah. A convention was called for by a number of associations to meet in 1814 in Philadelphia. There was formed "The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions," later to be known as the Triennial Convention.

The constitution of the Triennial Convention provided for representation from local and state missionary societies and from other religious bodies which contributed at least one hundred dollars per year. Again the societal method prevailed over any juridical plan and missions became the sole purpose of the unified effort. The method attracted the support of most of the one hundred and fifteen associations of Baptists. In its second year the Triennial Convention established a home missions society. Its first missionary, John Mason Peck, led in 1832 to the founding of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, which figured a decade later in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Let us return to the early settlement of Baptists in the South. Since the province of Carolina was granted a charter in 1663 guaranteeing religious liberty, it soon attracted many kinds of dissenters. A group of Baptists under the leadership of William Screven migrated from Kittery, Maine, to near Charleston, South Carolina, probably as early as 1683. By 1693 the group had established the first Baptist church south of Delaware at Charleston. Other groups of Baptists soon arrived from England and from the Welsh Tract near Philadelphia.

The "Great Awakening" began about 1725 and swept through all the colonies through the preaching of such pulpit giants as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. The frontier was a fertile field for the kind of camp-meeting revivalism which carried this new emphasis on experiential conversion. Baptists profited and grew in many areas, particularly in the South. But like other denominations they were divided in judgment on this new emotional experience. Regular Baptists tended to frown upon the uneducated excesses of the movement, while Separate Baptists generally am

plauded. The latter also grew ever more wary of any form of connectionalism that might endanger the independence of the local congregation. The legacy of the Separates is still strong in the rural areas of the South, long after their name has faded. But Baptists profited overall by the Great Awakening by developing a strong evangelistic zeal and by encouraging associations to send missionaries to establish new churches.

D. SOUTHERN BAPTISTS SEPARATE IN 1845

By the mid-nineteenth century Baptists in America were feeling the strong tensions which were soon to plunge the North and South into bitter war. Even apart from the slavery issue cultural polarities and diverse religious strategies probably would have caused the split among Baptists. Those in the North were committed to having separate societies for carrying on each kind of educational and missionary endeavor. They considered this plan the best way of protecting the autonomy of the local church. In the South Baptists were beginning to call for a conventiontype organization with the formation of the South Carolina Convention in 1821. This type of organization sought to protect the local church by allowing affiliation of churches only through "messengers," who had no authority to bind the local church, while at the same time electing boards of directors who would establish missions and educational and other agencies.

The issue that triggered the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention was two-fold. There was general resentment that the American Board of Home Missions was neglecting the South and Southwest in the appointment of missionaries. Then in 1844 the Foreign Mission Society refused the recommendation of Alabama Baptists for the appointment of a slaveholder as a missionary. About the same time Georgia Baptists failed in their effort to get the American Board of Home Missions to appoint a slaveholder to a Georgia mission. These decisions by the national societies were contrary to the previous practice of using slaveholders, even as board members. At the previous Triennial Convention meeting a resolution had been adopted which held that cooperation in the work of foreign missions would sanction neither slavery nor anti-slavery. The Southerners felt that the former practice and the present agreement had been violated without Convention consent.

Virginia Baptists then called for a meeting in Augusta, Georgia, in May, 1845, for the purpose of conferring "on the best means of promoting the foreign mission cause, and other interests of the Baptist denomination in the South."8 The preamble to the constitution adopted by the meeting stated its overall purpose as "eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel."9 At that meeting both a Foreign Mission Board and a Board of Domestic Missions were organized. Various efforts at establishing a publishing house met with only sporadic success until 1891, when the present Sunday School Board was established. By providing one body of literature for Bible schools and Christian training for the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches, this Board has been one of the strongest unifying forces of the Convention.

Theological education, which had begun as early as 1855 as a department of Furman University in South Carolina (founded in 1829), began in 1859 as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Disrupted by the War years it was moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1877. Since then five other seminaries have been founded which provided not only theological education, but also education for music ministers, religious educational directors, social workers, missionaries, and a growing list of specialists. The Convention funds their tuition and fees are kept low so that married students, who are in the majority, may be able to get a theological education, usually while working part-time or serving as student pastors. In 1977-78 the six seminaries reported over eleven thousand students in all schools.

E.OTHERDIVIDINGS LEAVE THEIR MARK

The nineteenth century which witnessed the beginnings of a national organization brought also an era of divisions. There had been some losses to Unitarian and Universalist movements in New England in the latter part of the eighteenth century, but these had little appeal to the growing churches on the frontier. The latter, though, were peculiarly susceptible to various antimission movements. Naturally suspicious of any centralized authority, they also opposed an educated and salaried clergy, Sunday Schools, Bible unions, missionary societies and, among the hyper-Calvinists, evangelistic efforts. Alexander Campbell, who was of independent Presbyterian background from Ireland, joined briefly with Baptists in 1813. By 1820 his strong preaching of baptismal regeneration (i.e., that water baptism is necessary to the salvation experience) began to alienate his fellow Baptists. Campbell's followers sought to reform the churches and restore the pristine conditions of the apostolic era and by 1844 were calling themselves simply "Disciples." They hoped to unify all Christians around the New Testament alone with the slogan, "Where the New Testament speaks, we speak; where the New Testament is silent, we are silent." On such basis they have (in their conservative wing, the Churches of Christ) renounced musical instruments in worship and also such officers and organizations in the churches as cannot be specifically justified by the New Testament. Decrying all denominations and divisions they produced yet another. Baptists suffered considerable losses to this movement in the states along the Ohio River.

By far the most influential nineteenth-century movement on Southern Baptists was that called "Landmarkism." Beginning in the 1850's through the preaching and writings of J. R. Graves, editor of The Tennessee Baptist, Landmarkism held that Baptist churches were the only true Church. The name was taken from a favorite text, "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Prov. 22:28). This was applied to what they con sidered to be ancient Baptist principles. In the latter half of the century denominational rivalry provided a fertile soil for the rapid spread of Landmark ideas. In brief, these are:

  1. Baptist churches began in the New Testament and can be traced through baptismal succession in many of the persecuted sects of the Middle Ages. As such they are not "protestants," for they had never been in the Catholic Church and they were never a part of the protesting groups in the Reformation. (No reputable Baptist historian today holds to this historically impossible theory; yet some "Letters to the Editor" in Baptist papers will occasionally take this position.)
  2. Since Baptists are the only true church, ordination in other denominations was not considered valid. Therefore, their administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper was also invalid. Pulpit exchange, which Baptists hitherto had generally practiced, especially with Presbyterians and Methodists, was completely forbidden.
  3. The only valid baptism, therefore, was that of a Baptist church. So even immersion on a profession of faith by other than Baptist churches was not recognized. This was called "alien immersion."
  4. Since the local congregation is the only valid church, there was no recognition of a church universal. The Lord's Supper was limited to the local members, as being the only ones under proper discipline. This was called "closed" or "close communion." Furthermore, this emphasis on the local congregation made Landmarkersexceedingly wary of any form of connectionalism, even those societies and agencies formed to support missions. Beginning in 1905 many of the Landmark churches pulled away from affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention and formed their own denominations, chief of which in the Southwest is the Baptist Missionary Association of America.

The Landmark influence is still felt in certain geographical areas, but it has not greatly slowed the growth of cooperation among Southern Baptists in their pursuit of their stated objectives of missions, education and benevolence.

In the mid-nineteenth century Baptists contributed yet another to the large number of millenarian (see Glossary) leaders of that troubled time. William Miller from Low Hampton, New York, in 1833 began prophesying the return of the Lord for 1843. When he changed the date to 1844 and nothing happened, many of his followers fell away. These "adventists" formed their own denomination which attracted many Baptists.

At about the same time J. N. Darby, a priest of the Anglican Church, who lived mostly in Ireland, left his church over his view that all the established churches were apostate by New Testament standards. He and the Plymouth Brethren, of which he was an influential leader, gave to American evangelical Christianity the first great impetus to "dispensationalism."

Oversimplifying and abbreviating, we may describe dispensationalism as a way of interpreting Scriptures by dividing it into seven historical "dispensations"—the age of innocence to the Fall of Man, from Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham, Abraham to Moses, Moses to Christ (the Age of Law), Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ (the Church Age), and the Millennium.

This ingenuous method of interpreting Scriptures seems innocuous enough, but it has had great influence among Baptists and others in forming a popular theology of far reaching consequences. Dispensationalism found its major vehicle of influence in the Scofield Reference Bible, the King James Version with notes edited in 1909 by C. I. Scofield, then pastor of the First Congregational Church of Dallas, Texas. It has been popularized also by many Bible Institutes and Bible prophecy conferences, and through a continuing volume of tracts and popular works by C. H. Mackintosh (CHM's Notes), D. L. Moody, Clarence Larkin, and most recently Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth: Zondervan, 1976). While it has never been either approved or renounced by any major Baptist body, it has had wide influence and an acquaintance with its themes is essential to understanding attitudes and issues among Baptists.

Again oversimplifying, we observe these features which the seven-era system has gathered as it developed into a full theological system. Christ came to establish the Kingdom, but the Jews rejected him. The fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Kingdom and Jesus' ethical teachings about it are in abeyance until the Second Coming. The Church Age, from Pentecost to his secret return to "rapture" the Church (catch up true believers to Heaven), is the "times of the Gentiles." The true Church is in secret composed of all true believers; all organized churches, Protestant and Catholic, make up a rapidly corrupting Christendom (often the Pope is seen as the high-priest serving the anti-Christ). Efforts to reunite all churches is a sure sign of the end of this age. The only hope is to evangelize individuals and save them front the corruption of the institutional church. God is preparing the land of Israel for the return of Christ to establish his worldwide rule from Jerusalem, and through the Jews (who will be converted en masse) the whole world will be evangelized. Bible prophecies which have not already been literally fulfilled will come to pass at the end time. The Bible is to be interpreted literally, except when dispensational criteria suggest allegorical interpretations. It is easy to see how this system of Bible use develops an almost wholly other-worldly view of salvation and the Christian's worldview. Under this there is no value in social reform, except as it ameliorates the plight of victims. Ecumenism takes on a sinister purpose. Missions have RIO other end than making converts. The Cross becomes an after-thought of Christ in view of the failure of his original purpose. The Sermon on the Mount is not to be applied to the Church Age, for it belongs rather to the Kingdom Age (the Millennium). The pursuit of missions in the world is ambivalent, for when the Millennium comes the Jews will be the great effective evangelizers where Christians have failed.

F. TIlE TWENTIETH CENTURY GROWTH

As we move into the twentieth century we are in the period of Southern Baptists' greatest growth and expansion out of the original eighteen southern states (from Maryland through the Old South to New Mexico and north to Missouri, Southern Illinois and the Ohio River). The most significant factor in this growth was the formation of the "Cooperative Program" in 1925. Prior to that time agents from all the mission boards, seminaries, and other causes had sought financial support by direct appeals to the local churches. In the wave of optimism after the First World War, Southern Baptists challenged themselves to raise $76 million in one great effort for the expansion of all their missiorlary and educational endeavors. More than $98 million was pledged, but a post-war recession kept the actual receipts in the f~ve-year period to $58.5 million. Meanwhile all agencies expanded their work greatly and new institutions were established. By the time of the 1929 stock market crash, all programs were heavily in debt.

The experience, though, taught Southern Baptists improved ways of stewardship and financial planning. In 1925 a unified budget, called the Cooperative Program, was adopted which allocated on a percentage basis all funds collected. The state conventions became the main collection agencies, deciding in their own meetings what proportion of monies received would be retained for state programs and institutions and what would be sent to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. The latter then disbursed the national funds according to a percentage budget adopted each year at the annual meeting of the Convention (in recent years the percentage plan has been changed to dollar amounts). This financial plan has been supplemented by annual offerings at Christmas for Foreign Missions and at Easter for Home Missions, largely promoted by the organizations of the Woman's Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Convention since 1888, and the Brotherhood Commission, a movement of Baptist men and boys in missionary support and action since 1907.

These two lines of financial support have provided another strong unifying factor, along with the Sunday School Board, for the more than 35,000 churches affiliating with the Southern Baptist Convention. While there are other unifying forces, such as loyalty to the Scriptures, voluntarism in religion, and defense of religious freedom, none is perhaps as powerful as this dedication to missions and evangelism. This emphasis is not necessarily a distinctive, for there are other denominations which show more missionary zeal, such as the Seventh Day Adventists and the Christian and Missionary Alliance, but it does locate the center of unity for Southern Baptists.

NOTES

1. Franklin H. Littell, The Free Church (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957); William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 1975.

2. Robert G. Torbet, A History of the Baptists (Valley Forge: The Judson Press, revised edition, 1963). I am indebted largely to Dr. Torbet's excellent book for much of this early history.

3. Ibid., p. 69.

4. Ibid., p. 55.

5. Quoted from the Kiffin Manuscript, Ibid., p. 42.

6. Ibid., p. 43.

7. Lumpkin, op. cit., p. 153.

8. Robert A. Baker, A Baptist Source Book (Nashville. Broadman Press, 1966), p. 113.

9. Ibid., p. 116.

Last updated Tuesday, December 29, 1998

©Copyright 1998 All rights Reserved. C.B Hastings
Text was scanned and OCRed from Introducing Southern Baptist ©Paulist, Press 1981.
ISBN: 0-8091-2364-9
Library of Congress Number: 81-80052
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