The articles published here include studies of Basil Manly Sr. and the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention; William Alexander Hamlett and the origins of Baptist missions in Palestine; the role of a single church and its pastors over the fundamentalist controversy in Des Moines, Iowa; and the theologian Bernard Ramm's quest for an alternative to fundamentalism for Baptists. Two additional articles apply innovative methodology to Baptist topics. Andrew Gardner explores the emotional struggles of pioneer missionary Henrietta Hall Shuck, and Adam McDuffie examines the Southern Baptist division from the perspective of rhetoric.
Basil Manly Sr. was an important figure in the formation of both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Confederate States of America. Mandy McMichael discusses his roles in both of these crucial contexts, analyzing his position on the secession of southern Baptists from northern Baptists and also on the political secession of the South from the United States. The major issue in both instances was slavery. McMichael notes that both sides employed political and moral arguments to justify their opposing positions. Drawing on Harry Stout's argument that secession is ultimately a moral question with no clear answer, McMichael argues that historians should give more attention to political and religious arguments in attempting to understand secession. Moreover, she points out that these two categories of analysis often were not readily distinguishable in the minds of southern secessionists.
The foreign missions enterprise has been a cherished enterprise of Baptists in the United States. Walker Robins explores a brief episode in the establishment of missions by the Southern Baptist Convention in the Holy Land. The story of the founding of this mission has enjoyed several narrations. Robins contends, however, that all of the previous accounts have omitted the very brief work of William Alexander Hamlett, who first led the mission in 1921, and he proposes in this study to offer a corrective to this omission. He notes that Shukri Mosa, a native of Safed, visited Texas in 1909, and while there he met L. R. Scarborough and George W. Truett; Truett guided him to accept rebaptism as a Baptist. Mosa returned to his homeland to do mission work, supported by the Illinois Baptist Convention. World War I interrupted the mission, but the Southern Baptist Convention accepted responsibility for it in 1919, and took action in 1921, prompted by a gift designated for Baptist mission work in Palestine. The Foreign Mission Board appointed W. A. Hamlett to supervise the effort. Robins discusses this colorful Baptist minister (sometime pastor of the First Baptist Church of Austin, Texas, and future active Klan leader). Hamlett's missionary work lasted only slightly more than a month, for which Robins judges him a "total disaster as a missionary." Mosa had to pick up the pieces left in the wake of Hamlett's failure while Hamlett continued to justify his actions after his return to the U.S. This account seeks to provide historical correction and also acknowledges failures in missions along with successes.
Bill Douglas explores the experience of division over fundamentalism in a significant Northern Baptist local church-Calvary Baptist in Des Moines, Iowa. The story focuses on a struggle by fundamentalists to control the local Baptist university, Des Moines University. When the Fundamentalists' bid to take over the Northern Baptist Convention in 1922 failed, soon thereafter some of them formed the Baptist Bible Union and the Union's leaders steered the university in a fundamentalist direction. Already in deep financial trouble after the firing of several professors, students protested the changes, and the university soon closed. The focus of this study is the role of the pastors of Calvary Baptist Church in the fundamentalist controversy at the local Baptist university.
Bernard Ram?n was a prolific Baptist theologian who sought to address the world of modern thought. He focused especially on the issue of science. Andrew Kim's article addresses the evolution of Ramm's thought and his legacy. Converted just as he was entering college, Ramm's first circle of Christian influence was Fundamentalism. Kim traces Ramm's intellectual journey from the inadequacies he found in Fundamentalism to Neo-evangelism. Educated at the University of Washington in Seattle and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, he was introduced to a variety of philosophical perspectives. Ramm taught Bible and Apologetics at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) and simultaneously enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) where he earned master's and doctoral degrees focusing on the philosophy of science. The contradictory presuppositions for his teaching assignments at BIOLA and his graduate work at USC created serious conflicts in his mind. Ramm focused his attention on a search for compatibility between science and religion with predicable mixed responses. Kim finds Ramm's legacy to be creation of space within the American Baptist identity for accommodation of belief in both modern science and religious belief.
Like other denominations, Baptists have honored their missionaries not only for their efforts to spread the gospel but also for the personal sacrifices they made in order to pursue their tasks. Andrew Gardner explores this question in his study of Henrietta Hall Shuck, an early missionary to China. This study examines her experience through the lens of emotion. Gardner appropriates the concept of emotionology, a neglected aspect of historians' approach to this subject. Shuck articulated her strong impulse to spread the gospel; on the other hand she struggled with the loss of natural human contact with family members. These contrasting desires must have created similar emotions among many missionaries. Shuck explicitly expressed both emotions in her writings, describing them as "peculiar." She found the resolution of this tension by affirming in correspondence with her father and her sisters that they would all meet again in heaven. Despite her devoted work in China for ten years, results appeared to he minimal, casting further doubt on her decision to leave family for missionary work. She found the means for coping with her emotions only in the promise of reunion with family members in heaven.
Adam McDuffie supplies insight into interpreting the Southern Baptist Convention schism. He argues that people were not persuaded during the conflict to shift sides based on the arguments they had heard or read. Instead, once people adopted a position, there was little chance of being persuaded by alternative arguments. McDuffie summarizes the major arguments of the conservatives and then the moderates, concluding that the arguments had to be simple to be persuasive and that the element of emotion played a large role in commitment to one position or the other. McDuffie argues that this rhetorical phenomenon, common in politics, is not limited to political persuasion but is also practiced by ministers. The author concludes that this form of argument prevailed in the SBC despite serious losses. Presented with statistics of declining contributions to foreign missions during the fight, this information was not sufficiently persuasive to end the conflict. The role of women in SBC life was even more severely limited than previously. Finally, the growth promised by a conservative victory has failed. The schism has been extensively analyzed. McDuffie presents yet another approach for grappling with the two opposing narratives of the split.
Following these six articles, readers will find reviews of recent books devoted to Baptist history.
The fall issue of Baptist History and Heritage will focus on Baptists and the Reformation. It is scheduled for publication around October 31 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of the 95 theses in Wittenburg.
Bill Pitts is a professor in the Department of Religion at Baylor University.
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|Title Annotation:||the Southern Baptist Convention|
|Publication:||Baptist History and Heritage|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2017|
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