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Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by SaggyWoman, Sep 2, 2002.
What would you say is the one best work on Baptist History that you have read?
Leon McBeth's The Baptist Heritage.
I believe Mcbeth's book is considered the standard for Baptist History, although I have not read it all the way through yet. I did enjoy "With a Bible In Their Hands" by Al Fasol.
I vote McBeth
McBeth's "Big Blue" is the standard Baptist history book. However, I read a great book entitled, "The Reformers and Their Stepchildren." I can't recall the author's name off the top of my head, but it was very interesting and traced our common Baptistic beliefs back to the Anabaptists and beyond. William Estep's "The Anabaptist Story" is great. Likewise, Vedder's Baptist History book presents a good case for the Landmarkist point of view.
Also, if you are interested in recent Southern Baptist history then, "A Hill On Which To Die" by Judge Paul Pressler is a must. In fact, I would say that for modern Southern Baptists it should be required reading. That is if you want to understand the SBC conservative resurgence and how Southern Baptists are the only major denomination in history (thus far) to head down the liberal road and do a complete 180 degree turn around regarding their views on the authority of Scripture. I praise God for men like Judge Pressler, Dr. Paige Patterson, and Adrian Rogers.
[ September 05, 2002, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: BibleboyII ]
Leon McBeth's book is very limited in scope, and is sadly affected by his Protestant baptist position. He ignores the vast majority of baptist history in favor of his denominational presuppositions.
"The Reformers and Their Stepchildren" is by Leonard Verduin. He was a Dutch Reformed Calvinist and long time pastor of the Campus Chapel at Calvin College who was given a grant to go to Europe and study the reformation. After two years he came home and published his findings. In the case of every reformer he studied, he found references to a shadowy people in the background who had influenced the reformers. Those people were my spiritual forebears. The dissenting churches all down through the ages of history who had clung to the biblical faith in spite of danger, persecution, and death. Verduin's book is one of the very best ever written on the subject of church history.
In what way? Can you give an example?
Of course Pressler has an enormous bias to his story... That's to be expected of course since he was the political architect of the takeover movement that used lies and distortion to defame people to gain power in the name of God.
Read books from the other side of the controversy to gain a more balanced opinion.
Without doubt, the best overall work on Baptist history is John T. Christian's two volume "History of the Baptists" which was first published by Broadman press and is now published by Bogard Press (of the American Baptist Association).
The first volume gives as good a documentation of the pre-reformation Baptists as it is possible to give from the very limited information on that subject. It also covers technical questions about the history of Baptists in reformation times, thoroughly refuting the infidel theory that Baptists "recovered" baptism in teh 17th century.
The second volume concentrates on the history of American Baptists up to the 1800s, giving good information on the spread of Baptists accross the continent and on the Campbellite and Calvinist apostacies.
Christian also wrote two books, which are very hard to find, about the "recovery of immersion" issue: "Did They Dip?" and "Baptist History Vindicated." These books are indispensable for anyone interested in the "Whitsitt" controversy.
McBeth, Torbet, and Vedder are modernists and therefore the interpretative aspects of their histories are worthless to the sincere Baptist. They do, however, preserve some important information on the history of American Baptists, especially in the area of the modernist schisms of the 20th century.
McBeth has a book titled "Sources For Baptist Heritage" which is far more useful than "The Baptist Heritage" as it contains a lot of original documentation with little interpretation.
Baptist believer, I have read books from both sides. I read a couple from the lib. side which were filled with accusations not facts, and I read a book I believe by sutton on the renewing of the SBC, which had historical fact, and biblical evidence of the wrong path of the liberal control.
I also own a copy of a student handbook from a seminary during the liberal years. In the handbook they declared it illegal to tape a class without the approval of the teacher. This was incerted in the rules because the teachers didn't want the church body to have evidence of what they were teaching. The same seminary welcomes recording now, they aren't afraid that what they teach will get out to the public. It is alot easier to teach when you are teaching what the Bible says instead of oppinions and feelings.
What do *you* mean by the word "modernist" and why do you apply that to Dr. McBeth? Please give examples.
I do respect the right to your opinion, but I would like clarification. Keep in mind, Dr. McBeth is a member of my church and I know the family fairly well.
I’m glad you’ve diversified your reading, but the “conservative resurgence” side has rewritten much of the “history” of the last 40 years…
I was at Southwestern Seminary when Dilday was fired and I saw first hand that the things the trustees and SBC leadership said did not match what actually happened – what was public record. I’ve also known a number of people who have been accused of heresies and had their reputations assaulted because they did not kowtow to the leaders of the SBC. I’ve had a certain SBC leader admit to me that his side does not always tell the truth because “the liberals” are out to destroy what they have done.
Now I’m not here to say that the side I most identify with is completely innocent of politicking and incendiary statements, but I do want to say this: God is not honored by lies and half-truths. If the “conservative resurgence” side was truly doing God’s work, I doubt Baptist Press would be constantly slandering Texas Baptists and the CBF. If you fact check many of the Baptist Press exposes and all of Roger Moran’s “facts”, you might come to a different conclusion about the “conservative resurgence” and the new SBC.
Actually, a lot of professors asked students to sign an agreement before taping classes to say that the tapes were for personal use – that’s why it was illegal to tape *without permission*. As for the reason, I cannot say why for any other seminary other than Southwestern, but every professor wanted to ensure that the content of the lectures was taken in the context of the seminary class – not an isolated day when the professor was presenting principles that every theological student needs to be aware of (an overview of the theology of Bultmann for instance) and have that represented as the professor’s own beliefs. I took a Theology of American Cults class with James Leo Garrett back in my seminary days and he insisted on an agreement because someone apparently had tried to use taped lectures from that class to misrepresent him.
When there’s a witch hunt in progress, it only makes sense to ask the students to keep the tapes for their own personal use. Your interpretation assumes the worst about the professors and may not be accurate – especially as a blanket statement.
Well there’s not a witch hunt against professors at most SBC institutions now… Everyone at the seminaries allegedly “believes” the Bible.
Yep. Unfortunately, much of the power of the “conservative resurgence” comes from getting people stirred up against alleged “liberals” based on little more than opinions and feelings.
This thread is about books on Baptist history so let's try to keep it on track. Instead of trying to hijack the thread for a debate on the SBC and its problems, let's talk about Baptist history books.
I agree with Brother Osgatharp's assessment of John T. Christian's two volume set. Both were used as text books at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, and we use them here as textbooks in the Seminary.
I would also recommend "The History of the Ancient Wallenses and Albigenses" by G. S. Faber, "The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont and of the Albegenses" by Peter Allix, "History of the Donatists" by David Benedict, "Ancient British and Irish Churches" and "The Life and Labors of St. Patrick" by William Cathcart.
As a counterpoint to McBeth's book I recommend "In Pursuit of Purity" by David Beale, and "A History of Fundamentalism in America" by George W. Dollar. Both books take up where Christian leaves off and follows Christiandom in the US up to about 20 years ago.
That's a good word of guidance. Mark, please PM your response. Fearnot, do not feel the need to respond.
Thanks Doc. I get pretty concerned when people start telling me things about others I don't believe. I just wanted clarification because of the way labels have been tossed around on BB the last few weeks!
First, I repeat what Doc Cassidy has said - let's keep this discussion on books about Baptist History, not the problems associated with the "conservative" resurgence in the SBC.
Second, I think that John T. Christian's History of the Baptists is the best (overall) of any Baptist histories with which I am familiar. It is well researched and well presented. McBeth's Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage is very helpful because of the original documents it contains. Another book that I would recommend is Baptist History by J. M. Cramp.
Your baptist history is a interesting thing. Shadowy figures in the background are "baptists", people who were only "baptist" for a short time are the ones entrusted to pass the "baptist torch" and people centuries apart are suddenly connected. Hey if you want to make Jesus a baptist go ahead, I think I'll stick to actual history.
I would agree that Leon McBeth's The Baptist Heritage is the most comprehensive. I would also recommend Henry Vedder A Short History of the Baptists as well as Torbet's Baptist History.
John T. Christian is without a doubt the best of the Landmark Baptist historians (Much better than the pathetic Trail of Blood ) and even though I don't agree with much of what he says and Christian's History has a propaganda nature to it, there is usefull info there. William Estep's The Anabaptist Story is very good in that it shows the spiritual kinship between Baptists and our Anabaptist cousins.
[ September 05, 2002, 10:18 PM: Message edited by: Kiffin ]
Does Christian's history have a propaganda nature to it? Sure, if you mean he thinks "Baptists" have existed in all ages and presents a case for it. Does McBeth's history have a propaganda nature to it? Sure, if we mean that he thinks "Baptists" have only existed for four centuries and presents a case for it! McBeth and others are as much driven by their ecumenical agenda as Christian is driven by his landmark agenda. For an example of that see my review of Shurden's Introduction, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, and Chapter Four.
I have mentioned before and will repeat again: I am amazed that many landmarkers will not recognize anyone (in the present) who is not just like them as Baptists, and yet will identify many (in the past) that vary widely as being Baptists; while on the other hand many ecumenicalists will recognize almost anyone (in the present) as Baptists no matter what they believe, and yet will deny many (in the past) as being Baptists because they vary from what they have determined is a Baptist!
I am not trying to hijack this thread, but would like to respond as to another reason why prof's were careful about students recording their class. When I was in Dr. Boo Heflin's Old Testament Survey class, the material he was using in his lectures was to be used in a future book and he had not had it copyrighted yet. Therefore he asked that no recordings be made or if you did, to keep it for personal use only. As for sources on the SBC controversy, I think a good, unbiased source of reading for this would be "The Truth In Crisis: The Controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention" by James C. Hefley.
I generally liked John Christian's books, but did think that he was soft on unitarianism, and that, to some extent, any group that were considered heretical by the Catholics were conscripted into his Baptist lineage. As someone who has studied Jewish/Christian relations, I also tried to find a "pure" line of Christians who did not persecute Jews, the Donatists and Waldensians seem hopeful, but I wrote to a modern Waldensian professor who replied that, after reading through every court case against the Waldensians in the Middle Ages, he had never come up with a reference to Jews, and then went on to note that many people want to find in the Waldensians a perfect church, but that they were also (like us today) not perfect. I do think that they were part of a purer thread, the persecuted underbelly of Christian history where the humble and pious were to be found. Being anti Catholic however is not sufficient evidence of Godliness.