Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baptist Ways: more opinion

A few days ago, I posted a "review" of Baptist Ways. I have a few more thoughts I just couldn't keep to myself. ;-)

Your bias is showing. Regarding the inerrancy controversy in the mid 20th century Southern Baptist Convention, Leonard evidently lets down his guard (pp. 414-416). He notes that the fundamentalists preferred to be called conservatives and that the liberals preferred to be called moderates. Then he goes on calling the conservatives fundamentalists (which they do not prefer) and the liberals moderates (which they do prefer)? Why give one group their preferred name and deny it to the other? Historical accuracy? I think not.

Unindexed. One of my interests, washing of [saints'] feet, received only 1 listing in the index (p. 478). There are two problems -- one, that this was incorrect and it is actually mentioned on 5 different pages; and two, even 5 mentions is too few in a book covering 400 years of history. The index has several such problems (e.g. Cf. zenana in the index vs. zenana in the text).

Disrespecting T. P. Crawford. According to Leonard, missionary
Tarleton Perry Crawford "was a genuine eccentric who took on Chinese dress and made a fortune in real estate speculation." (p. 202) Baptist eccentricity is no surprise. They go together like baseball and hot dogs. But to reference Crawford "making a fortune" in real estate without either showing that he was an unscrupulous American cheating the Chinese or that he was a wise bivocational minister who supported the Gospel Mission with his business acumen is a little below the belt, in my opinion. Tell us what you really mean.

Baptist history vindicated. According to Bill Leonard
William H. Whitsitt's "...views were ultimately vindicated." What views? That Baptists did not institute immersion until 1641 (p. 216). Whitsitt's views have only been vindicated in the minds of those agree with him. Nevertheless, research of early 17th century Baptists has not ground to a halt due to Whitsitt "solving" the problem, nor does majority agreement with him in the 20th century prove his theory any more than majority agreement with successionism proved that in the 19th.

Oops. Apparently going from memory, Leonard states there were three Baptist U.S. Presidents in the 20th century -- Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Actually there were four. Warren G. Harding was the first.

My mistake. In the review, I mentioned that Baptist Ways is the most up-to-date single volume history of the Baptists. Actually since then
Contending for the Faith: an Updated History Of The Baptists (Robert Ashcraft, editor. Texarkana: Baptist Sunday School Committee, 2006) has been published. Baptist Ways was conceived as an update/replacement for Robert Baker's history of the Baptists. Contending for the Faith was conceived as an update/replacement for John T. Christian's history of the Baptists. I haven't seen this book, so can't comment further on it.


Bro. Matt said...

We have ordered Ashcraft's book to put in the church library. When it comes in, you can borrow it if you would like.

Anonymous said...

Just read your review on

Great work. We share a lot of the same interests (Civil War, Baptist life/thought, Appalachian culture).

Hope you publish your review sometime.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Jim, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Welcome to "Seeking the Old Paths." Come again.

Matt, thanks for the offer. I'll try to take you up on it.