Baptist History and Theology

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Daniel Dunivan, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    I am currently working on my Ph.D. in Historical Theology at a Catholic university, Saint Louis University. As a baptist, General Association of General Baptists, this has caused me to do a great deal of thinking about how baptist history and how we perceive it effects our theology.

    One area of interest that has arisen from this exploration is how the idea of successionism in baptist history has played a sort of self-affirming role in baptist theology.

    I am interested in any thoughts about this subject or other subjects with respect to the history-theology connection.
     
  2. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    I can only speak for the Primitive Baptist brethren but I feel the split between the Old School and New School Baptist shaped our theology.

    Taken from Black Rock Address & Kehukee Declaration... Page 57... It is not possible to acquire the same "faith" of our fathers by merely reading their biographies or their sermons and statements of belief. If we-the living-ever possess the faith possessed by the "fathers" we must receive it from the same source they received it, namely, from God alone. We must also experience for ourselves what they experienced, and that "through much tribulation."

    The difference that developed in the churches over the modern innovations culminated in a formal break between the parties of the "new school" and the "old school Baptist.
    This division was spelled out in the declaration called "The Black Rock Address." A meeting of "Particular Baptist" convened at Black Rock, Maryland, September 27, 1832.
    In this famous address the issues were named and the reasons given for the action taken. The issued outlined were mainly, Tract Societies, Sunday Schools and Bible Societies, Mission Boards and Societies, Salaried Ministry, Theological Schools, Colleges or Seminaries.

    Further reading can be found in Fifty Years Among The Baptist by David Benedict and History of the Church of God by C.B. & Sylvester Hassell which can be found on line at this link... http://www.pbministries.org/History/S.%20Hassell/church_of_god_22.htm

    The Baptist Split in 1832 completely changed the theology and practice of the Baptist down through the ages and altered the history of the Baptist people in time... Baptist History proves nothing less!... Brother Glen [​IMG]

    [ October 16, 2002, 03:57 AM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  3. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Glen,

    The quotation you give seems also very biblical. As we read the lives of Abraham, David, Paul, and even Jesus, it is not in our reading that we make meaning. Meaning is made through our encounter with the same God they lived out. However, the recounting of their lives and deeds has shaped our theological reflection tremendously.

    As I look at my tradition's attempts at historical inquiry, I am baffled by the amount of myth introduced into the life of our founder, Benoni Stinson. What I am struggling with is the application of this. As a historian, it is difficult not to be condesending, but the faith testified in these works resonates strongly with me. It seems that how we write history shows our faith in a positive way, in spite of our biases.
     
  4. Joshua777

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    Danny,

    Where and how can you draw the line between the myth and man when all the history we have is littered with stories stretched beyond belief?
     
  5. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Josh,

    It is all about historical method. One important thing that we can do is to become philosophically self-appropriated, so we can better see how our biases effect our narratives. However, on the other side, this is quite impossible. Practically speaking, when looking at the life of Benoni, and the biographies that have been presented (Revis, Mongomery, Williams, Laslie, Latch, etc.), it is easy to see which have sound historical method and which don't (you know what I mean), and for the most part which are myth and which are not (the inclusion of successionism is a big clue: you know my quip comparing Latch to Genesis).

    Good to see your post. I'm staying at SLU tonight. Doing some research on John Henry Newman. E-mail me and let me know how your big sermon for sunday is coming. [​IMG]
     
  6. J.R. Graves

    J.R. Graves
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    Dear Brother Daniel,

    It is my understanding that all of the General Baptist historians before the Civil War were successionists. Have you heard this before? I have a list of several of them, but it is in my office. I will try to post it later tonight.

    Also do you know of any place that reprints old General Baptist books? (Pre-1900)

    Thanks,
     
  7. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    J.R.,

    Yes, prior to the Civil War up to the 1970ish our histories were plagued by successionism.

    We may need to identify what General Baptists we are speaking about. Maybe after you post we can know where we are.

    In reference to my original question, do you think successionism as a historiographical approach says more about our theology or our history?
    [​IMG]
     
  8. imported_J.R. Graves

    imported_J.R. Graves
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    Brother Daniel,

    The General Baptist historians I was referring to are:
    Joseph Hooke “Necessary Apology for the Baptists” 1701, London
    Thomas Davye “The Baptism of Adult Believers Only Asserted and Vindicated” 1719, London
    J.H. Wood “History of the Baptists” in 1847

    Have you ever heard of any of the above?

    I believe Hooke and Davye are old school English General Baptists, while Wood is part of the Stinson group.

    To answer your question - I think succession seems from both theology and history. Our Baptist forefathers believed the Scriptures taught Church Perpeturity (theology) and yet at the same time they also believe history proved church perpeturity (history). So both.

    You mentioned that General Baptist histories up until the 1970's were "plagued by successionism". What are some other General Baptist histories (besides those I mentioned) that contained successionism?
     
  9. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    J.R.,

    I have heard of works you are refering to (in fact I saw some very old copies just last week in the archives at Oakland City University (the only school for the Stinson group). However, unless I am mistaken, Wood's was not from our group either.

    There are several histories, but some of the more recent works that employed successionism were done by Laslie (I can't remember the title of this book) and Ollie Latch (General Baptists in History, The History of General Baptists). Both of these gentleman are twentieth century writers. There have really only been two works written without this blemish: Craig Shull, The God of Our Fathers; Randy Mills, Christ Tasted Death for Every Man. Latch's works have been kind of the accepted works for the last 40 years; however, Mills book was published in 2000 and is gaining acceptance.

    My question from before: I think successionism is a primarily theological based method of interpretation. I am wondering if it is not only driven by theology, but can we look at these works as pieces of theology in coming to grips with our theological heritage. I am thinking out loud (kinda). I'm thinking about doing some research in this area for publication.
     

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