Saturday, February 25, 2006

Slavery & Southern Baptistry


"The question at issue is not is not the Baptist tradition in general, or the Anabaptist tradition in general, but the Southern Baptist tradition in particular.."

You mean that wonderful tradition that slavery was a divinely ordained institution?

Bad tree, bad fruit.

# posted by dan : 2/25/2006 3:12 PM


Honestly, you gotta wonder sometimes what, if anything, you’d find if you opened up the brainpan of these unbelievers and took a look inside. Cobwebs instead of synapses?

Slavery is not a S. Baptist tradition.

Does Dan think that S. Baptists were running the great antebellum plantations? Better question: Does Dan think at all?

Does he know anything about the standard of living of the average, antebellum S. Baptist? Clearly, historical economics is not his forte.

American slavery was a carryover from England. Affluent Colonists imported the institution from the other side of the pond.

It was basically an Anglican and later Presbyterian affair.

Nor was it distinctively a Southern institution—not originally.

Colonial England churchmen like Samuel Hopkins and Ezra Stiles, President of Yale, were in the forefront of abolitionism in America.

The leading figure in the abolition of slavery was the great Evangelical churchman William Wilberforce, inspired by the great Evangelical hymnodist, John Newton.

Unfortunately, slavery is a cultural universal. Slavery was practiced throughout the ANE and elsewhere, by Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians, Greeks and Romans, Arabs, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, North American and Meso-American Indians, to name a few.

Men of European descent have done more to abolish slavery around the world than any other people-group.

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    Yes, I know a good bit about Southern history, and probably a good bit more about Southern Baptist history as regards race relations than you do. Also, I was reared in an SBC Church, one located in a college town with a wonderful music ministry led by probably the most qualified choral instructor in the region. (A Westminster grad, by the way, in addition to his secular music training.) When, in 1964 (I was 14), two black female students at the local college wanted to join
    our young adult choir, they were barred. Couldn't even walk in the door.

    The SBC was formed from a split in existiing Baptist organizations over slavery. Those who argue otherwise probably believe that the
    Civil War was caused by a dispute over tariffs.

    And Wilberforce would have been lynched if he had tried to speak in an SBC church.

    The SBC only apologized for its sad history-- which included not only its affirmation of slavery as a noral good, but failure to oppose anti-lynching laws, open support of Jim Crow laws, etc.-- in the 1980's. I know personally three former SBC preachers who fled churches in the deep South in the 60's and 70's because they could no longer tolerate the hatred of blacks that they encountered-- in their communities, but more painfully to them, in their churches. .

    Was slavery an exclusively Southern problem? No, as Lincoln pointed out, it was a deeply American problem, and, in his view, people in the North had no right to claim moral superiority over Southern slaveholders. But, by this time, solid evangelical Baptist churches in the North were beginning to see slavery as an evil, though they still retained, by and large, the common American view of the White race as superior.

    BTW, you have no right to say, or at least imply, that I am an unbeliever. (Assuming your first sentence had anything to do with me.) I am a lifelong Baptist, active in my Church, which is not an SBC Church. My family left the SBC Church mentioned above after the incident mentioned, but we have all stayed Baptists.

    But read what I said-- I never said slavery itself was an SBC tradition-- only the defense of slavery as a divinely ordained moral good. As Lincoln also pointed out, the previous American consensus had been that slavery was an evil, but it was established and Constitutionally protected where it existed. Indeed, as far as I can find, this view was largely accepted by Baptists in the South at least into the 1820's. The formation of the SBC came as apologists for slavery ceased to acknowledge it as a regrettable necessity that could be eliminated only with God's grace over time, and instead began to assert, in increasingly shrill terms, that slavery was part of God's ordained plan for blcks.

    And, I would add, the SBC was behind other denominations that had similar splits in abandoning support of segregation. So, having to put up with folks like the Caners and Falwell is probably pennance.