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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Average Baptist

The average Baptist is a plain, straight thinking person. He may be a great scholar, or a hod carrier, but, in religion, he takes on the complexion and manners of the New Testament. He believes in simplicity. He likes plain preaching and simple worship. If the choir, by any machination of the devil, falls under the lead of any professional musician and is turned to singing tunes with the delirium tremens, the average Baptist is grieved, and solaces his soul by singing 'How Firm a Foundation' or 'Amazing Grace'...The average Baptist takes no stock of Easter, and the like, not that he does not believe in the resurrection; not that people may not observe days; but, like Paul, he is skittish of these extras and prefers the plain, old, level Jordan road, with a steady incline up, all the way till it reaches the city of God." J. B. Gambrell, from The Baptist Standard, May 1907

I love Gambrell's imagery: The average Baptist prefers the plain, old, level Jordan road, with a steady incline up, all the way till it reaches the city of God. I fear (though I hope I am wrong) that almost one hundred years after Gambrell wrote this, the "average" Baptist may no longer take on the complexion and manners of the New Testament. May God help us if this is so. RLV

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!" - from Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, 1787

James Bruton Gambrell (1841-1921) was born in South Carolina, raised in Mississippi, lived in Georgia, and later came to Texas. He was a Southern Baptist pastor, educator, and denominational leader; editor of the "Baptist Record" 14 years; President of Mercer University; editor of "The Baptist Standard"; and President of the Southern Baptist Convention 1917-1921.

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