The following is a review of "The Baptist Heritage" by H. Leon McBeth which I wrote for the Spring 1988 issue of "The Pillar" magazine. In the review I predicted this book would become a popular work for pastors, schools, and churches; which prediction materialized and this book has become quite popular. In spite of it's bias toward modernism, it has even been embraced by many conservative Baptists. Maybe this little review will give some unsuspecting soul a "heads-up" as to the biased and parital character of this "history". Mark Osgatharp ******** THE BAPTIST HERITAGE by H. Leon McBeth, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1987 The Baptist Heritage is the latest Baptist history from Broadman Press. The 850 page volume was written by H. Leon McBeth, Professor of Church History at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth. No doubt this book will become a widely used Baptist history text for seminaries, pastors, and churches. Therefore it is necessary that Baptist people be made aware of its deficiencies, many of which cut to the very soul of Christianity. On page 22 we find an understatement that obscures a tragic incident in Christian history. Concerning the sixth century attempt of the monk Augustine (or Austin) to convert the native Britons from Celtic to Latin Christianity, the author says: "After a time of competition, the Latin, or Roman, form of faith prevailed." What was the nature of this "time of competition"? The native churches refused Augustine's demand to adopt infant baptism and thus were threatened to be "warred upon by their enemies." King Ethelfrid made good Augustine's threat and had twelve hundred unarmed ministers put to death. See The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation by the Venerable Bede, pages 67-68. With other twentieth century writers, this history dates Baptist origins to the 1641 "Recovery of Immersion" (p. 44ff). The untenableness of this position has been amply demonstrated by John T. Christian (A History of the Baptists, Vol. I, ch. 17). However, one reference demands note. The author confirms that Leonard Busher advocated immersion in 1614. Yet he makes the illogical statement that this testimony "is no proof that he or others actually put the idea into practice" (p 45). What more testimony Is required that a man practiced immersion than his description of baptism as "dipped for dead in the water"? Regarding the Baptist name, it is said "By the early 1640s some opponents were calling them 'Baptists'" (p. 48). The early 1640s to be sure — and much earlier. In 1569 Sir William Cecil, advisor to Queen Elizabeth, spoke of the "increase of the numbers and courage of the Baptists" (Christian, A History of the Baptists, Vol. I, p. 206). In the same vein, page 55 refers to the "familiar problem of using 'Anabaptist' and 'Baptist' as interchangeable names." This should pose no problem today when it did not to the very people who lived among the Anabaptists. It is a well documented fact that the Anabaptists preferred the name Baptist, but the majority of their enemies insisted on the term Anabaptist, even up to the 1800s in America. We might also note the categorical statement that "General Baptists also taught the possibility of apostasy" (p. 73). While some General Baptists denied security, others did not. The General Baptist Orthodox Creed of 1678 states that "Those that are effectually called... shall certainly persevere unto eternal life" [The History of the English Baptists by Thomas Crosby, appendix to Vol. Ill, p. 41). Generalized statements should not be made without explanation. In relating the doctrinal controversies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the author consistently passes character judgement on conservatives and casts liberals in a charitable light rather than just stating the facts. For example, in the English Baptist Down Grade controversy we hear of "the proud Spurgeon" (p. 304). Landmark leader J. R. Graves has a "lack of formal education" which caused "imbalance and rigidity" in the Landmark system (p. 448, compare these statements with Acts 4:13). Fundamentalist J. Frank Norris is "erratic, domineering, devious" (p. 763). In contrast, the Northern Baptist liberal Walter Rauschenbusch writes "powerful books" (p. 598). Noted modernist Harry Emerson Fosdick is kindly credited with "thoughtful critiques" and "moving sermons" and "eloquent preaching" (pp. 599-600). Overall the Northern Baptists [Squire, if you are reading this I'm talking about, Northern Baptist Convention, so don't get excited ;0)] are praised for their "spiritual vitality and vigorous ministry" (p. 608), an assessment hardly defensible when their beliefs are compared with Scripture. Landmarkers are represented as ignorant, anti-intellectual, and even emotionally unstable souls (pp. 448, 449, 459, 632). Fundamentalists, despite Biblical precedent, are reproved for using military terminology such as "fight to the finish" (p. 769; compare I Tim. 1:18, II Tim. 4:7, and II Cor. 10:3-4). One of the most disappointing portions of this history is the discussion of the Soviet Baptist situation. In 1960 the leaders of the Ail-Union Council of Evangelical Christian Baptists (an evangelical umbrella group foisted on the Baptists by the government) issued a letter instructing the churches not to attempt evangelism, or to teach the young, encourage baptism, or baptize anyone under age thirty. An initiative group was formed in an attempt to rectify the problem. When they failed, many Baptists demanded permission to convene a congress on the issue. "The All-Union Council responded by excommunicating active supporters of a congress and assisted in new arrests" (Soviet Dissent, by Ludmilla Alexeyeva, 1985, Wesleyan University Press: Middletown, Conn., p. 204). These events led to the formation of a separate Baptist union in September of 1965 (ibid, pp. 205-206). Now Mr. McBeth tells us these "Reform Baptists have also cultivated the unfortunate habit of referring to the union leaders as 'mouthpieces of Satan'" (p. 817). If Paul called the Judaizers Satan's ministers (II Cor. 11:14-15), how much more are those who, posing as Gospel ministers, instructed their flocks "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:18)? Moreover, they aided In their arrest for not complying. The author's whole discussion of the situation leans in favor of the compromising Soviet stooges and against the valiant defenders of the faith. About the only value of this book is its hard-to-find information on European Baptists. As far as lending any understanding of "The Baptist Heritage" it falls far short of its goal.