Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Arkansas Missionary Baptists and The Gap

I ran across an interesting tidbit of Missionary Baptist history on Tom McElmurry’s web site. McElmurry was a student at the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas, and tells the following in an update “to present a brief history of what is known as ‘the gap theory’.”
…the man most responsible for the introduction of the Gap Theory into Missionary Baptist ranks, Dr. J. Louis Guthrie…was one of the three founders of the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas…in summary, the thread of continuity that stretches from Missionary Baptists back to the birth of the Gap Theory in about 1814, began with a first stitch by Dr. Thomas Chalmers, rippled across the Atlantic on the wings of Dr. Giorgio Bartoli, and entered our ranks largely through the brilliant, fertile mind of Dr. J. Louis Guthrie.
Guthrie received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Peoples National University in Atlanta, Georgia; he wrote a dissertation on the topic “The Place of Jesus Christ in Creation.” This may be the background source of the Christ in Creation book to which McElmurry refers in his update.[i]

[i] I am not sure of the extent of Guthrie’s work on the subject, but my guess is that Christ in Creation, printed in 1975 by Seminary Publications, is likely the same as Creation of the Heavens and the Earth issued by Guthrie in the 1940s (Little Rock, AR: M. B. I. Printery, 194?). An online version that “was hand typed in 2007 from a copy owned by Dr. James M. Phillips and edited where necessary” is available. They mention, “Because of hole-punches and pages that ran off the edge of the copy, many words were filled in by considering the context. Brackets, [ ], are placed around words that were missing from this copy. Where the word which Dr. Guthrie used could not be determined, the brackets were left empty.”

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