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According to God's Plan: Southern Baptist Missions and Race, 1945-1970.

According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 God's Plan: Southern Baptist Missions and Race, 1945-1970. By Alan Scot Willis. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and was organized in 1969 as successor to the University of Kentucky Press. The university had sponsored scholarly publication since 1943. , 2005. 260 pp.

Alan Scot Willis presents an honest, balanced, and forthright account of how the Southern Baptist hierarchy tried to persuade their congregations and pastors of the rightness and biblical correctness of an integrated society. After the Second World War, it became painfully apparent to missionaries that the second global conflict was predominately a race war, and, not surprisingly, the victorious Allies often experienced rebellions in their colonies. Southern Baptist missionaries, mostly from segregationist seg·re·ga·tion·ist  
One that advocates or practices a policy of racial segregation.

 states, suffered the indignity in·dig·ni·ty  
n. pl. in·dig·ni·ties
1. Humiliating, degrading, or abusive treatment.

2. A source of offense, as to a person's pride or sense of dignity; an affront.

 of facing the anger of the people groups they came to evangelize e·van·gel·ize  
v. e·van·gel·ized, e·van·gel·iz·ing, e·van·gel·iz·es
1. To preach the gospel to.

2. To convert to Christianity.

To preach the gospel.
 and minister--that the Communists exploited at every opportunity. Willis quotes from letters written by progressive, moderate, and segregationist writers, letters which stir the emotions of readers with pride, disappointment, and disgust. Southern Baptist leaders held progressive views, and defended them in print, but the great dilemma for the leadership was how they could bring racial progress and healing to the region without appearing politically, socially, and theologically liberal.

The author asserts that although the present-day Southern Baptist Convention Noun 1. Southern Baptist Convention - an association of Southern Baptists
association - a formal organization of people or groups of people; "he joined the Modern Language Association"

Southern Baptist - a member of the Southern Baptist Convention
 has shifted to the right, the work of previous leaders serving between 1945-1970 has remained. Southern Baptist efforts toward racial reconciliation, which began in earnest after the war, continue among African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans to the present. Many will read with interest of missionary efforts among the Islamic African peoples, and how missionaries feared the segregationist system would drive Africans deeper into Islam.

Despite Willis's best efforts not to appear judgmental judg·men·tal  
1. Of, relating to, or dependent on judgment: a judgmental error.

2. Inclined to make judgments, especially moral or personal ones:
, he did not always succeed. Italics or quotation marks inserted by the author amid quotes from letter writers alert the reader to his skepticism regarding the correspondent's motives. In addition, the author falls into the trap of assuming because liberal and progressive elements took the high ground on race in the past, they must be politically and intellectually correct as to related matters in the present. He laments that the present Southern Baptist leadership refuses to take racial healing further by defending left-wing political causes that often tout the well-worn cliches of victimization victimization Social medicine The abuse of the disenfranchised–eg, those underage, elderly, ♀, mentally retarded, illegal aliens, or other, by coercing them into illegal activities–eg, drug trade, pornography, prostitution. . By implication, Willis appears to assert that conservatism in religion and politics is essentially racist.

In a well-organized, readable, informative, and enlightening narrative, Willis chronicles the racial progress made in the Southern Baptist Convention--and eventually, in its autonomous local churches. Research based on denominational periodicals, both past and present; archival sources; and numerous secondary works demonstrates his thoroughness. In the end, Southern Baptist leaders changed the racial views of their members when they successfully "showed to a society that endowed segregation with divine approval that segregation was a sin the eyes of God" (p. 200).--Reviewed by James S. Baugess, adjunct instructor in the humanities, Columbus State Community College Columbus State Community College, commonly referred to as CSCC, was first established as Columbus Technical Institute in 1963. The college has grown from an initial enrollment of 67 students in 1963, to its current thriving campus of about 28,000 students. , Columbus, Ohio.
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Author:Baugess, James S.
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2005
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