Saturday, February 25, 2006

Southern Baptists and Baptistry-Addendum

Comments:

"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.


Steve has responded. I'll simply add my comments fromthe thread, since, until April at least, I'm the resident Southern Baptist here.


A. How does the affirmation of slavery on the part of some of the SBC Founders relate to the Calvinistic foundation of the SBC to which the Caners are opposed?

B. If "guilt by association" is a measure, then what is to be said of the Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, and others who practiced slavery in the South?

C. For that matter, what about those wacky General Baptists who had sunken into Socinianism by the late 18th century and needed a "New Connection" to reinvigorate them?

D. Aprops C, let's not forget the state of the Northern Baptists today. Independent Fundamental Baptists for the most part are preaching Unitarian grace, Finneyism, and "fire insurance" salvation. There are a few exceptions however

.E. Emir and Ergun have set themselves against the Confessional history of their own denomination. They say that those of us in the Founders Movement are "rewriting Baptist history."

Uh-huh.,,
How many of the first delegates to the SBC didn't affirm the Philadelphia Convention?

On what document is the SBTS / SEBTS Abstract of Principles based?

What does the Sandy Creek Confession say about the doctrines of grace?

How many of the churches that stream of Baptists in the South planted affirmed "moderate Calvinism?' How many affirmed the Philadelphia Confession or the Charleston Confession?

To what stream of Southern Baptists did Richard Furman belong? What is he known for having done for missions? Oh, and to anticipate the response. Yes, he owned slaves. So did Thomas Jefferson. Shall we toss out the US Constitution?

Who was Ezra Courtney? What famous Baptist association did he found? What did their confession say about the doctrines of grace?

It is not the Founders Movement who has set about rewriting the history of the SBC, and they are fully aware of the issue that spawned the separation between the North and South.However, apparently orthodoxy went out the window rather quickly in the Northerns. After the Civil War, however, you have men like James Boyce, who later founded SBTS, who proposed the law in the SC legislature that outlawed slavery at the state level itself.

I'd add too that the Enlightenment did much to spawn the European/American slave trades. I wonder, what does this say for the children of the Enlightenment?

We could also drag out the Inquisitions. That should make Catholicism quite attractive.

Shall we also discuss the persecution of the dissenters by the Church of England?

Servetus?

Munster?

Pol Pot?

Stalin?

Mao?

The Crusades?

If we take your logic to its end, dan, we are left with no creed, not even that of the atheists, stems from a tree good enough from which to eat.

5 comments:

  1. Gene, I have respondeed to Steve's esarlier post, but you raise one point that is relevant that I did not address, to wit:

    "A. How does the affirmation of slavery on the part of some of the SBC Founders relate to the Calvinistic foundation of the SBC to which the Caners are opposed?"

    I guess the point that I was making was that, other than the affirmation of slavery as a positive good, I see little or no basis for the division between Northern and Southern Baptist Churches. Calvinism was reasonably well accepted in both regions. While I think the Caner's are nuts, I think you might give too much importance to the role of Calvinism in the formation of the SBC. Until the invention of the internet, I would have been shocked to hear that at least a large number of the earliest SBC founders were full blooded five point Calvinists. But I do not believe that, in any important sense, the SBC was founded BECAUSE OF those Calvinist beliefs.

    As I mentioned to Steve, I am a life long Bqptist, and I find the Caner's just another in a long series of embarassments to the SBC. You imply that you are leaving the SBC, I'm not sure why, but the best advice I could give you is to not let the door hit your backside on the way out. It is going pure megachurch theology.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I should add that I meant no basis for division at that time, i.e., 1845.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Until the invention of the internet, I would have been shocked to hear that at least a large number of the earliest SBC founders were full blooded five point Calvinists. "

    There should be a NOT before full blooded in the above.

    Sorry about that, it is late and I am going to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I see little or no basis for the division between Northern and Southern Baptist Churches....But I do not believe that, in any important sense, the SBC was founded BECAUSE OF those Calvinist beliefs.

    I did not say it was, but it is undeniable the every church adhered to either the Charleston Confession or the Philadelphia Confession.

    "Slavery" per se was not the reason the Convention was formed. It was the immediate cause, the straw that broke the camel's back, but it was not the sole cause.

    For Baptists the 19th century was about 2 things other than slavery and the Civil War: missions and ecclesiology.

    Prior to the formation of the SBC, an argument broke out in the North in the American Bible Society over a request to fund a Bengalese translation. The Baptists wished to translate the words for baptism/baptize as "immerse." The Presbyterians wanted to transliterate the words and make the new Bible more amenable to the other denominations.

    The Baptists in both the North and the South balked at this, and the Northern Baptists pulled out of the American Bible Society and formed their own society to print the Bibles. The Southern Baptists, including many of the original founders of the SBC campaigned long and hard to raise money for the new Bibles, and they desired cooperation in more efforts including missions.

    Meanwhile the paedobaptist/credo-baptist controversies began. Baptists and Presbyterians debated for years about the matter in writing.

    Then the Campbellites came. They destroyed Southern Baptist churches. Once great churches like FBC Nashville were literally left without buildings. The Southern Baptists saw their own lands as a mission field once again.

    The baptism controversies and the rise of the Campbellites gave rise to a reaction. The Landmark movement began, and cooperation with Presbyterians largely came to an end. Baptists in the South struggled to find an identity. On the one hand, they needed help to establish/reestablish their churches. On the other, the Landmarkists persuaded Baptists in the South to eschew cooperation with Presbyterians. The Primitive Baptists were of no help; for they disaffirmed mission societies.

    It was this melee into which the controversy at the Home Mission Society was birthed. When the Northern Baptists decided they would not permit slave-holders to enter the mission field, the Southerners objected, even though many did not own slaves. The Home Mission Society would not fund Southern missionaries to the frontier and the South, where the greatest needs were perceived, complained that they weren't getting funds and the North was guilty of holding people's souls a ransom for political reasons. So, in order to do the work of missions, they split.

    So, on the one hand you had Southern Baptists who did affirm slavery and publicly defended it (including John L. Dagg, an otherwise brilliant theologian for his day), yet on the other, you had Northern Baptists willing to hold souls hostage on the mission fields and stop the planting of new churches. Yet, at the same time, they were more than happy to solicit funds from slave owners to fund the publishing of Bibles.

    Ergo, neither North nor South could claim altruism, so to call the SBC "bad fruit from a bad tree" is, in my opinion, an unjust statement given all that was happening at the time.

    From a moral standpoint, slavery is certainly repugnant, and they were wrong to support it. At the same time, I believe it is an equally bad sin to play politics with a mission board, which is one reason I oppose the new IMB policies. From a pragmatic standpoint, the split hurt the North more than the South in the long run and benefited the South. In the South, they were able to organize themselves and fund their own missionaries; though they had to tighten their belts to do it. The South, as the North fell from orthodoxy and absorbed the Free Will Baptists in 1911, fared much better in that respect. The Southerners were able to build a denominational structure and hold onto orthodoxy more effectively, even during the rise of neo-orthodoxy within the seminaries. In some sense Landmarkism contained the seeds of the liberalism to come (for one's so ready to toss aside orthodoxy to trace lineage via believers baptism set a poor example for the future), but on the other, the separation and antipathy between North and South helped insulate Southern Baptists from theological shifts that occured in the North. The North has never recovered from this.

    I am leaving the SBC in order to participate in a new church plant in my area, where I will be assisting in teaching. I disagree with your assessment of the SBC. What is happening now is a schism between the younger and older generation. The younger generation is not nearly as megachurch driven; and the Calvinist contingent is now strong enough to stand up and object and actually have people pay attention. Ten years ago, that would not have been the case. Up to the day I leave, I will be involved in some activities as a prelude to the next Convention. There is more going on in the background than you probably know. The situation at the IMB is indicative of this new rift. This year's Convention is in my backyard (I live in the area). I surmise, from those I know coming, that it will be historic. This year, the younger set are coming. In recent history, they have stayed away. They may not be the majority yet, but they are coming to make it known that they will no longer tolerate the games playing that has been going on and that it is time to get back to the business of substantive ministry.

    ReplyDelete
  5. " They may not be the majority yet, but they are coming to make it known that they will no longer tolerate the games playing that has been going on and that it is time to get back to the business of substantive ministry."

    I know a fair amount about most of the larger SBC congregations im my area, and going back to a substantive ministry would be something totally outside their experience for decades of numbers hunting above all else. I hope your different appraisal is right, but I doubt it.

    The SBC has apologized for its past support of slavery and racism. I can only say I hope that apology was sincere, and I am glad they recognized the stains of their past-- but I think God just might ahve a sense of humor and has inflicted the Caner's on them intentionally.

    ReplyDelete