Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What’s wrong with contemporary?

There is a continuing debate in the churches about “traditional” versus “contemporary” music. The term is typically used to refer to pop, rock, or “praise & worship” styles. The Dictionary of Christianese[i] defines contemporary Christian music (CCM) as “A genre of music with a pop or rock sound and lyrics that are related to the Christian faith.”[ii] The adjective “contemporary” on the other hand means “of the present time; existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time.”

I notice that sometimes the word “contemporary” gets “played with” in the discussions of worship wars.[iii] Those who like contemporary music with a pop or rock sound in church often “switch horses” in the middle of a discussion and begin speaking of contemporary in the sense “of the present time” – that is, newly written music. This is diversion by design. For example, Mike Bergman writes,
“…even the most traditional song was contemporary at the moment someone first wrote it. And this rejection of the contemporary based on its newness is itself a rejection of Scripture which commands us to “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful” (Psalm 149:1).
Responding in a comment Dave Miller says, “I always wonder what standard we use when we start saying that new is less worthy than old. How old is old enough?” Most Christians agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with a song simply because it is new, recently written. A song can be “recently written” in any style. I write hymn tunes. I have written one as recently as the first of February, and am working on another now. It is contemporary (new/just written). It is Christian (tune combined with biblical text, to be sung by Christians). It is music (at least I think so!). But it is not Contemporary Christian Music/CCM.

The origin of CCM is older than the song on which I’m now working. By nearly 50 years! It is not a matter of age. According to the CCM Hall of Fame, Larry Norman “is widely accepted as the ‘father of Jesus rock.’ In 1969, nearly a decade before CCM was founded, Norman was signed to Capitol Records (home to The Beatles and The Beach Boys), where he created ‘Upon This Rock,’ a groundbreaking work believed to be the first ‘contemporary Christian music’ album ever made.” Gospel Music Hall of Fame says, “Norman’ s music—an unlikely mix of love songs, the Gospel message, and wry commentary on American culture—exemplified the goals, ideals and standards of everything the original architects of contemporary Christian music intended for it to be.” CCM is a style or genre within the overarching label of “Christian music.” The debate is not about the age of the songs. It is about style and sometimes preference. There is nothing inherently wrong with “contemporary,” though all contemporary songs do not fit the theology of the Word or the “style” of God’s people.[iv] “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Away with thee, confusing cavil and diversionary discussion of the age of songs. “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.” (Psalm 149:1).

[i] “The casual slang of the Christian Church...authoritatively defined. The Dictionary of Christianese is a new dictionary currently being written that explains the slang words and expressions used by Christians. The Dictionary is a serious work of scholarly research, and it is written for use by all kinds of people, including new Christians, long-time Christians, non-Christians, linguists, journalists, historians, and word nerds and curiosity-seekers of every kind.”
[ii] Tim Stewart, the chief researcher for The Dictionary of Christianese, is a proponent of this music, writing “I myself enjoy CCM quite a bit, and I also love the fact that we coined our own word for our brand of popular faith-related music.” This is not a definition concocted by the opposition as a strawman.
[iii] “Worship wars” refer to the debates over the style and content of the music in churches.
[iv] “The fact that so many Christians gauge their personal estimate of the worth of a worship service on the basis of personal enjoyment indicates that they do not really comprehend what is involved in corporate Christian worship.” (Robert G. Rayburn, in O Come, Let Us Worship: Corporate Worship in the Evangelical Church, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, p. 129)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Students protesting gun violence turn violent!

“Students at Stagg, Edison, Chavez, Lincoln and Village Oak high schools were walking along streets, creating traffic problems in the area as streets were blocked off.
“Stockton police said some students threw rocks and damaged both police and citizen vehicles.
“Five arrests were made, including charges of battery on an officer, resisting arrest, taking an officer’s baton and vandalizing vehicles, including patrol vehicles, Stockton police said.”

Why Christians Don't, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.
  • Why Christians Don’t (and Won’t) Support Gun Control -- "This view of mankind as essentially evil is in stark contrast to the collective wisdom of our modern age, which holds to John Locke’s tabula rasa theorem that man is born with a blank slate."
  • We All Marry the Wrong Person -- "If you catch yourself saying, 'I married the wrong person,' I challenge you to take the focus off your spouse and put it back on yourself."
  • The Days Do Matter -- "Hugh Ross devotes many pages to arguing for a non-literal meaning of the “days” of creation..."
  • The Canon of the Old Testament Books -- "The so called 'Protestant' Canon of the Old Testament has 39 Books, which are the same that the Hebrew Bible Canon has, which is 22 Books. Though there are different number of Books, there is no difference in the content..."
  • NC Pastor fatally wounded in local hunting incident -- "A North Carolina coyote hunter’s electronic coyote caller was apparently so convincing, he ended up being mistaken for a coyote and was shot and killed."
  • Man removes feds’ spy cam, they demand it back, he refuses and sues -- "This federal lawsuit has raised thorny questions about the limits of the government’s power to conduct surveillance—in the name of border security—on private property, without the landowner’s permission."
  • John’s Gospel, According to Eusebius -- "I was taught, I had read that the Gospels were anonymously written after decades of oral tradition after 70 A.D. I learned differently by first dating Acts and Paul's early epistles."
  • How My Blog Grew to 1 Million Pageviews a Month -- "I always say that the day before everything changes feels like just another ordinary day."
  • Have Education Department Mandate Active Shooter Protocols -- "Israel figured out how to stop school shootings 40 years ago; It's time the U.S. followed suit."
  • Group asks for removal of Father Marquette Cross -- "The historic Father Marquette named in remembrance of famed missionary Jacques Marquette, a Frenchman among the first Europeans to discover a large stretch of the Lake Michigan coastline — including Ludington — in the 1670s."
  • Florida Teacher of the Year's Gun Violence Post Goes Viral -- "She said when she began teaching 20 years ago, she never had to worry about calling a student’s parents and getting cussed out, told to go to hell, or threatened with a public shaming all because she was calling out their child’s behavior."
  • Counting English Translations -- "This encyclopedia is the first book to identify, explain and categorize more than 1,400 versions of the English Bible."
  • Christina Bennett -- "February is Black History Month, so I want to introduce you to an up and coming, young black pro-life leader, Christina Bennett."
  • A Study of the Greek Text of 1 John 5:6-10 -- "Now, the Apostle John would not only have been very able in the Greek language, but, he was writing under the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt that he would have employed the correct Greek grammar for what he wrote..."
  • A Gun-Control Measure Conservatives Should Consider -- "To describe these differences is not to say that the two sides never meet...there is broad conceptual agreement that regardless of whether you view gun ownership as a right or a privilege, a person can demonstrate through their conduct that they have no business possessing a weapon."
  • 5 Ways Pastors Can Prepare Their Churches for Suffering -- "As you seek to shepherd your congregation, don’t wait until suffering comes. Don’t start preparing people for death in the ICU."

Monday, February 26, 2018

On the Slippery Slope, and other reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

Disqualified for office in the church

The highest moral character must be sedulously maintained. Many are disqualified for office in the church who are well enough as simple members. I hold very stern opinions with regard to Christian men who have fallen into gross sin; I rejoice that they may be truly converted, and may be with mingled hope and caution received into the church; but I question, gravely question whether a man who has grossly sinned should be very readily restored to the pulpit. As John Angell James remarks, “When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin.” Let those who have been shorn by the sons of Ammon tarry at Jericho till their beards be grown; this has often been used as a taunt to beardless boys to whom it is evidently inapplicable; it is an accurate enough metaphor for dishonored and characterless men, let their age be what it may. Alas! the beard of reputation once shorn is hard to grow again. Open immorality, in most cases, however deep the repentance, is a fatal sign that ministerial graces were never in the man’s belief is that we should be very slow to help back to the pulpit men, who having been once tried, have proved themselves to have too little grace to stand the crucial test of ministerial life.
Lectures to My Students: a Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastoral College, Metropolitan Tabernacle, by C. H. Spurgeon, p. 22

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What think you of the preaching of John: a baptismal hymn

Below is hymn on baptism by a Baptist hymnwriter, written before or by 1791. It demonstrates the Baptist theology of baptism of time. It has appeared in several publications. The hymn is in found in A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of Christians by Smith and Jones, and The Latest Collection of Original and Select Hymns and Spiritual Songs, by Elliott and Stevens. (It is reported to be in the 1810 printing of Mercer’s Cluster, but I did not find it in the 1823, 3rd edition.) What I post below is somewhat of a composite, with some adjustment to keep the meter 11s throughout. It could be sung to a tune like Bellevue/Firm Foundation. It’s only 16 stanzas! Take a look.

Hymn XCVII (p. 74-75) in Divine Hymns: Or Spiritual Songs; for the Use of Religious Assemblies and Private Christians, by Joshua Smith and Samuel Sleeper, Portland: Printed for Thomas Clark, 1803; “A Hymn on Baptism, by Anna Beaman of Warren in Connecticut, composed about the time she was baptised.” (According to David Music in I Will Sing the Wondrous Story (p. 138), it appeared in Smith's first Divine Hymns in 1791.)

1. What think you, my friends, of the preaching of John?
Say, was it from heaven or was it of men? 
We hear him declaring glad tidings of peace, 
Proclaiming a jubilee year of release.

2. The Law and the Prophets continued till John,
Our Saviour hath told us when gospel began;
And since that, God’s kingdom is preached faith the word
And all men press in who have faith in the Lord.

3. The first of the gospel, the dawn of the day,
The voice of one crying prepare ye the way;
Bring forth your repentance, ye viperous breed,
And think not to say ye are Abraham’s seed.

4. A new dispensation to them he declares,
And preaches repentance to Abraham’s heirs;
The children of Abraham’s natural seed,
Found they had no right his baptism to plead.

5. But when he perceived that repentance was theirs,
Then he gave baptism to Abraham’s heirs;
For those who had been sealed to covenant things 
We find John baptising – confessing their sins.

6. He tells them their Saviour is already here,
And while he’s baptising our Lord doth appear
For to be baptised; and John shrinks at the thing,
And owns he has need to receive it from him.

7. But when he informed him it was his request,
He freely baptised him as he did the rest;
And this institution was owned from above:
The Spirit of God was sent down as a dove.

8. And his sweet example is left on record,
Whoever steps in, they will find a reward;
They’ll find peace of conscience and joy of the same,
When they are baptised in Jesus’s own name.

9. The Eunuch we find was in haste to receive,
His water baptism, when he did believe;
He went on his way full rejoicing in God,
While those who rebel must be tasting his rod.

10. The friends of Cornelius who heard Peter’s word,
Believed and received soon the seal of the Lord;
The Holy Ghost fell, then their joys did arise,
And Peter commands that they should be baptised.

11. Saint Paul’s great conversion he found in the way,
The light which shone round him exceeded the day;
Then he was three days, neither drank nor did eat,
Yet he was baptised e’en before he took meat.

12. We read where three thousand believed in a day,
And that they were baptised without a delay.
The house of the jailer believed in the night,
And they were then baptised before it was light.

13. Forbear then to censure by being in haste,
Or show me an instance where it was the case,
That primitive Christians e’er deferred the thing—
I answer my conscience to Jesus my King.

14. I’ll tell you how gospel appears unto me,
And pray to kind heaven that you all may see;
The wise and the prudent, ‘tis hid from their eyes,
While babes of the kingdom rejoice in the prize.

15. Some call it baptism and think it will stand,
A few drops of water dropped from a man’s hand,
In the face of the infant under the curse—
But we find no scripture which proves such to us.

16. There’s no being “buried with Christ” in this case—
And Jordan or Enon was John’s chosen place;
Our Lord in a river, John did him baptise,
And Christ’s sweet example we honour and prize.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Aus Tiefer Not, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Evolution means there is no soul, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

(Evolution means there is no soul) "If you really understand the theory of evolution, you understand that there is no soul." -- Yuval Noah Harari

"If you don't have Jesus, you still have death. If you don't have Jesus, you don't have eternal life." -- Heard

"When we pray, humanity cooperates with divinity." -- Barry C. Black

"What shepherd waves good bye to his sheep, wishes them luck, and skips off to greener pastures?" -- ​Mark Dever

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its savor, it will be the bland leading the bland!"

"Only Jesus can speak so dead men can hear." -- J. Vernon McGee (maybe others)

"Many would be scantily clad if clothed in their humility!" -- Anonymous

"If the desire for sin is unmortified (Col. 3:5), then it will produce sinful behavior when presented with temptation." -- Richard D. Phillips

"The what else for the homosexual question turns out to be the same as for every other sin. I know of no one who would affirm an orientation toward idol-worship, blasphemy, violence, laziness, stealing, lying, or covetousness. So why would we take a more positive position towards homosexual desire than any other sinful desire?" -- Richard D. Phillips

"Jesus was crucified on a cross of wood, but he made the tree and the hill on which it stood." -- Copied

"I prefer to be tried by twelve than be carried by six!" -- Wesley Briggman

"As a Christian, being correct is better than being contemporary." -- Glenn Harrell

The cross shows that God is not distant from the evil of this world. He took that upon himself. -- Russell Moore

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Role of Women in Our Churches

The essay below was written in 1986, and published in The Baptist Waymark periodical in August of that year. If I were to write it today, it would sound different, but my instructions would still be the same. I am publishing it here substantially as written nearly 30 years ago, with some minor corrections for (hopefully) easier reading, and the inclusion of some related links.

After the women’s liberation movement gained popularity, pulpits became increasingly silent about the role of women in our churches. This lack of teaching has allowed confusion to reign. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). His Word will settle the matter. Both men and women are seeking scriptural answers about the woman’s place in our churches. Should they preach? Should they teach? Should they vote? Should they lead singing? Should they lead in prayer? Let us go to the Holy Bible to find the answers to these questions.

No. The Bible has no command for or inspired example of women preachers. The Lord chose twelve apostles — all men. The seventy sent out by the Lord to preach were all men. All the preachers in the book of Acts were men. There is no Bible example of God calling a woman to preach. Therefore, a woman has no scriptural basis for claiming to be called of God to preach.

The biblical qualifications for bishops (elders) leave no room for women. “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work,” 1 Tim. 3:1. The preacher must be the husband of one wife — no woman can claim to be a husband (modern same-sex marriage advocates notwithstanding). Verses 4-7 mention “his” three times, “a man” once, and “he” four times — all terms referring to men, not women. The qualifications are given again in Titus 1:6-9 and those verses also show that the only biblically qualified preacher is a man. The very terminology used — bishop and elder — are masculine words.

Women should not be preachers or deacons. In Acts 6:1-7, the deacons were men. In 1 Tim. 3:8-13, the qualifications could only be fulfilled by a man. If there is any such thing as a deaconess, she is a deacon’s wife, not a woman who is a deacon, 1 Tim. 3:11.

Yes, under the proper circumstances, women should teach. They are to be “teachers of good things,” Titus 2:3. The aged women are to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Therefore, the Bible shows that women are to teach women. They are also to teach children (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). But the Bible says women are not to teach over or exercise authority over the men (1 Tim. 2:12). They should be silent as far as teaching the whole church, men, or mixed groups of men and women.

Yes. It is not hastily that I make this statement. I have given much study and thought to this issue. The biblical examples of congregational decisions illustrate that the women took part. Acts 1:12-26 records the selection of one to fill Judas’ office. The assembly was made up of about 120 people (v.15), which included women (v.14). They, the 120, appointed two men, and they, the 120, gave forth their lots and chose Matthias. Therefore, this selection process included the women.

Acts 6:1-7 tells of the selection of the first seven deacons. The seven were chosen by “they” — which refers to the multitude of the disciples (vs.1,2,5), and this included widows (who are always women).
In the council meeting of Acts chapter 15, the final decision was made by the whole church (v.22), which included women as well as men. We concur from these three examples that the women should vote.

Notice in all three instances that, although the women did vote, it was the men who discussed the business, made the suggestions, and provided the leadership. The women were silent. Although the women should vote on church matters, they should not lead in the business; rather, let the men do the leading.

Some see a problem that voting could allow the women to exercise authority over the men in the church (when allowed to vote). For example:
Last Baptist Church of Anytown, Texas, has 55 members. 30 are women and 25 are men. If the women vote they will run the business because they are in the majority. 
But this contains no added problem. If the church is in scriptural order, the women will follow the leadership of the men and not wrest authority to themselves — even though they are in the majority. If the church is not in scriptural order, there will be problems regardless of their policy concerning women voting. If not allowed to vote, the domineering wife can simply tell her husband how to vote!

No. This would be usurping authority over the men. A woman should not be a director or leader. The leader, whether in the business or the music, should be the men (1 Tim. 2:12). All the members of the churches at Ephesus and Colosse are commanded to sing psalms (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). This means that the women should take part in the singing but it does not allow them to move into a leadership capacity.

No. This too would involve moving into a leadership role (1 Tim. 2:12). Women have as much right and as much duty to pray as men, but should not lead prayer in church when men are present to lead the congregation to the throne of grace. If for some reason only women are present we believe it would be permissible to lead in prayer, since it would not involve taking a man’s place.

This does not mean absolute silence under all circumstances. If you say it does, then why do you allow women to sing in church? This silence has to do with tongues (v. 23), confusion (v. 33), speaking (vs. 34-35), and asking (v. 35). This excludes women from speaking in any public way in a mixed assembly.

1 TIMOTHY 2:12
This verse excludes women from any activity that would put them in authority over rather than in submission to men. If men and women would search the Bible to find the sphere and work that the Lord has for each of them, the Lord’s churches would prosper and be in better health. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The Baptist Waymark, August 1986

Articles on Black Baptist History

Some Online Articles about Black Baptist History

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nat Turner: Baptist preacher, Rebel leader

A drawing of Turner which appeared in
Slave Insurrections in Virginia
Last night (19 Feb 2018) I found time to read The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrection in Southampton, Va., as told to Thomas R. Gray (Baltimore, MD: Lucas & Deaver, 1831).[i]

Nat, a slave commonly known as Nat Turner, according to his own testimony was born October 2, 1800 on the plantation of Benjamin Turner in Southampton County, Virginia. He was taught reading and writing from the Bible, embraced the Christian religion, and became a preacher. With only these characteristics to recommend him, he might have been lost to history, but in August of 1831 he became the leader of a bloody slave rebellion in Virginia. Because of this his name has passed down in the annals of time.

From the time he was a young child, his family and other slaves considered him to be a prophet (or at least destined to be prophet). Turner was very religious and spent much of his free time reading the Bible, fasting, and praying. Probably sometime between 1825 and 1830 he became a preacher and preached to other slaves. His ability as a preacher and his personal charisma allowed him to attract a good number of followers. Turner was sold several times and no longer part of the Turner plantation by the time of his rebellion. By that time he worked for Joseph Travis (actually belonging to Travis’s stepson, Putnam Moore). According to Gray’s report, Nat said, “Since the commencement of 1830, I had begun living with Mr. Joseph Travis, who was to me a kind master, and placed the greatest confidence in me; in fact, I had no cause to complain of his treatment to me.” (Confessions, p. 11)

According to most accounts, Nat Turner was a Baptist preacher (though there is at least one statement by Turner that calls that into question). Drewry wrote, “He was a careful student of the Bible, a Baptist preacher, read the newspapers and every book within his reach, and listened attentively to the discussions of political and social questions by the best and most enlightened men of the country.” (p. 113; cf. also p. 26) Turner believed in signs and visions – which would not necessarily be unusual for a Baptist preacher in the 1830s[ii] – and it was through these that he eventually interpreted his mission of insurrection. In 1825 he had a vision of a conflict between black and white spirits, where “the thunder rolled in the Heavens, and blood flowed in streams.”[iii] In his confession, Turner explained another message from God: “the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent.” Later he would view an eclipse of the Sun in February 1831 as a sign to plan the insurrection. It would ultimately be scheduled for August 21, 1831.

A writer in The Atlantic Monthly stressed, “He never was a Baptist preacher, though such vocation has often been attributed to him. The impression arose from his having immersed himself, during one of his periods of special enthusiasm, together with a poor white man named Brantley.”[iv] This refers to Turner’s statement recorded on page 11 of his Confessions: “About this time I told these things to a white man, (Etheldred T. Brantley) on whom it had a wonderful effect—and he ceased from his wickedness, and was attacked immediately with a cutaneous eruption, and the blood ozed (sic) from the pores of his skin, and after praying and fasting nine days, he was healed, and the Spirit appeared to me again, and said, as the Saviour had been baptised, so should we be also—and when the white people would not let us be baptized by the church, we went down into the water together, in the sight of many who reviled us, and were baptised by the Spirit—After this I rejoiced greatly and gave thanks to God.” The Atlantic Monthly writer assumes this account gives rise to the idea that Turner was a Baptist. But a careful reading of the statement, taking it literally, would mean that though Turner was possibly a Baptist in sentiment, he was not a Baptist and not a member of a Baptist Church – that is, if “the white people would not let us be baptized by the church.” There is reason to question such a literal construction of the statement, though, since it was common for slaves to be received as church members and baptized on profession of faith.[v] One wonders, then, if Turner’s story may have meant that the church objected to a black slave baptizing a white free man. Perhaps this is a “second” and self-baptism by Turner to identify himself with the one he is baptizing? Absent finding a record of Nat Turner joining a Southampton County church, we may never know the answer to his Baptist connections.

The bloody revolt planned and guided by Turner began in the early morning hours of August 21, 1831. With his followers Turner led a series of attacks – going from house to house killing men, women, and children – beginning with his own master’s household. Most sources (including Confessions, p. 22) relate that about 55 people were killed in Turner’s rebellion. Within two days the rebellion was broken, but Turner hid successfully for nearly two months before being captured. He was tried and hung at Jerusalem, Virginia on November 11, 1831. It might be (and has been) argued that in the long view the Turner Rebellion helped the anti-slavery cause, but its most immediate effects were executions of blacks (some of whom probably had no connection to the rebellion, and some who were not slaves), harsher laws against slaves, and stiffening of pro-slavery resolve. Turner had not led his followers from bondage, but led them to dispersion, death, destruction, and denigration. Whites lived in fear more slave rebellions. Blacks lived in fear of being lynched. 

According to the extremes, Nat Turner may be considered either a hero or a villain, but certainly he was a man of his times – a perhaps unusual one as an educated slave, but a man of his times, nevertheless. It seems that it was important to both Turner and his white narrators that he not be seen as a man exacting vengeance of those who mistreated him (though probably for different reasons). Drewry wrote that “Cruel treatment was not a motive for the rebellion” (Slave Insurrections, p. 115) and Gray explained that the insurrection “was not instigated by motives of revenge or sudden anger, but the result of long deliberation, and a settled purpose of mind.” (Confessions, p. 5) Turner himself did not see the conflict as a matter of personal vengeance against his oppressors, but a call of God to execute God’s judgment. He confessed that on May 12, 1828, the Spirit told him he should take on the yoke of Christ and “fight against the Serpent.” Did Turner couch revenge in spiritual terminology? Perhaps. But his long-known spiritual tendencies suggest a true sincerity of belief existed (but that might not have been present in many of the co-conspirators).[vi] Gray connected the voices and visions with madness, thereby explaining both the religion and rebellion. All told, the entire account reveals how violence begets violence that is returned by violence – and that spiritual men need to be extremely careful how they interpret their spiritual impressions.

[Note: I found this after I finished the article, so my article does not have the benefit of these sources. The Nat Turner Project is a digital archive of original documents related to the Turner rebellion newspaper articles, diary entries, letters, maps, trials transcripts, census records, pamphlets, petitions, and other types of sources created at the time the revolt occurred. According to the Project, “The collection of primary sources in this archive allows you to create your own interpretations of the rebellion, its black participants, its white targets, and its enigmatic leader” and “In some respects, the historical documents available about the revolt raise as many questions as they answer.”]
Unknown Woodcut titled “Horrid Massacre in Virginia,” which appeared in Authentic and Impartial Narrative of the Tragical Scene which was Witnessed in Southampton County (Virginia) on Monday the 22d of August Last

Books about Nat Turner
Links to stories about Nat Turner

[i] In his preface to Slave Insurrections in Virginia (1830-1865) (p. 7), William Sidney Drewry wrote, “This attempt to separate truth from fiction has been exceedingly difficult, owing to the numerous misrepresentations and exaggerations which have grown up about the subject.” In the attempt, he conducted interviews in Southampton County, including with former slaves and former masters. I make no claim that I am able to separate the truth from fiction, but believe the story is worth telling. If Turner was a Baptist preacher, his story is part of Baptist history. I have assumed a general reliability of The Confessions of Nat Turner, as told by Gray which purports to be Turner’s own statement. It was supposedly read to Turner in the presence of witnesses and he “acknowledged the same to be full, free, and voluntary.” This is not to say that these people had no interest in shading the truth. Certainly they were not neutral. On the other hand, at trial Nat Turner was asked whether he had anything else to say and he replied, “I have not. I have made a full confession to Mr. Gray and I have nothing more to say.” (See pages 5 and 20.) This is also not to say whether Turner had an interest in presenting his rebellion in a certain light – though he must have known that a death sentence was inevitable regardless of how he told the story.
[ii] For example, Shubal Stearns claimed a direct revelation from God after a thunderstorm in September 1769. “As he was ascending a hill in his way home he observed in the horizon a white heap like snow; upon drawing near he perceived the heap to stand suspended in the air about fifteen or15 to twenty feet above the ground. Presently it fell to the ground and divided itself into three parts; the greatest part moved northward; a less towards the south; and the third, which was less than either but much brighter, remained on the spot where the whole fell; as his eyes followed that which went northward, it vanished; he turned to look at the other, and found that they also had disappeared. While the old man pondered what phantom the division, and motions of it meant, the thought struck him: ‘The bright heap is our religious interest; which will divide and spread north and south, but chiefly northward; while a small part remains at Sandy Creek’.” (See Morgan Edwards, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists, Volume 2, p. 94) The visions of Turner are nevertheless extreme compared to the spiritual impressions of most Baptists of his day.
[iii] The Confessions of Nat Turner, p. 10
[v] There are numerous historical examples of this. One example can be found in the history of First African Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, roughly 75 miles north of the area where Nat Turner lived, mentions blacks who were members of the (white) First Baptist Church of Richmond in the 1830s.
[vi] Turner’s inability to “give a death blow” to Mr. Travis and Mrs. Newsome, and the struggle to kill Margaret Whitehead may also suggest he did not have the rage that some of the other rebels exhibited. (Confessions, pp. 12-134) In fact, Turner only admitted to killing one person.