The Formation of the S.B.C.

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by rlvaughn, Jun 22, 2002.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    The Southern Baptist Convention was organized on May 8-12, 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, with the constitution being adopted on May the 10th. Dr. W. B. Johnson, of South Carolina, was elected President of the Convention and many of his ideas for a tighter denominational structure prevailed.

    These southern and western churches separated from the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions (whew! also known as the Triennial Convention because it met every 3 years). Though much regional wrangling existed from the time of the Triennial Convention's organization in 1814, the immediate cause of division among the Baptists in the United States was that of slavery. When the national government of the United States was formed, slavery does not appear to have been a divisive issue, and it was evidently not terribly divisive in 1814. As the years progressed, slavery issues became more and more of a problem for American Baptists. One should be aware that there were Southerners that were opposed to slavery, Northerners that were slaveholders, and a lot of Baptists that did not want the issue to be inserted into denominational concerns. But slavery would increasingly become a regional issue and abolitionist agitation would continually bring slavery to the forefront. The events most directly connected with the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention are the "Reeve Case" and the "Alabama Resolutions." The American Baptist Home Mission Society supposedly operated under a theory of neutrality on slavery, but since some leaders of the Society were engaged in abolitionist activity, many Southerners did not believe they were sincere. To test this, Georgia Baptists (in 1844) sent the name of James E. Reeve, a slaveholder, to the Home Mission Board to be appointed as a missionary in the South (and specifically noted on the application that he was a slaveholder). The board declined to act on Reeve's appointment on the basis of (or under the guise of) the neutrality agreement - that to act on a case which deliberately introduced the issue of slavery would violate neutrality. In all fairness to the board, regardless of their inner motives, they were in a no win situation. In any action, they would either anger brethren in the North or brethren in the South. The Alabama State Convention, aroused by the Reeve case, adopted several resolutions demanding of the Board of the Triennial Convention whether slaveholders could be appointed as missionaries. The answer of the Board would be the straw that broke the camel's back - "If...one should offer himself as a Missionary, having slaves, and should insist on retaining them as his property, we could not appoint him. One thing is certain; we could never be a party to any arrangement which would imply approbation of slavery." Again, in fairness to the Foreign Mission Board, if nothing else they probably understood that their answer would cause either division between the Baptists North & South, or else it would cause division among themselves in the North.

    Lost in the slavery issue, though, is the fact that there were regional differences, unrelated to slavery, that caused dissension in the Triennial Convention almost from its very inception. There were complaints in the South and West that the convention was not meeting their needs, and at least as early as 1835 there was a call for a separate convention. The Triennial Convention was formed as a foreign missions convention, yet in 1817 (largely due to strong southern leadership) home missions and education were put under its umbrella. Meetings in southern and central states, and powerful voices such as Richard Furman of South Carolina, led to growth that tended to make the Convention a general denominational body. But in 1826 the Convention was returned to its original design. This was largely due to northern Baptists getting the meeting moved to New York and packing it with their delegates. Headquarters were moved to Boston. Political maneuvering is not new to Baptists in the U. S. :( Events such as these led to such a foundation for division that Leon McBeth said, "The 1826 revision to a society basis had far-reaching consequences. Baptists North and South were committed to different patterns of work which would make continuing cooperation almost impossible. While slavery was the major factor in the 1845 schism, the events of 1826 paved the way for division and probably made schism inevitable (The Baptist Heritage, p. 360). [bold emphasis added, rlv]

    I think there were four major contributing factors to this Baptist schism resulting in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention: [1] different opinions on organizational structure; [2] complaints from different regions that mission work in their area was being neglected (whether real or imagined); [3] a sense in certain regions that they had little or no voice in the Society (Triennial Convention) and Board deliberations; and [4] slavery (being the final straw for both sides).

    It should be added that while the schism between the Triennial Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention represented a schism of the majority of Baptists in the United States, it did not include all the Baptists of the United States, only those who were involved in these missionary enterprises. Other groups, such as the Primitive Baptists, would have no need to divide over the issue until after 1860, and then only because they had to "choose a country."
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

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  3. rsr

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  4. rlvaughn

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    Thanks for the links, brethren. I also want to recommend two works that will be helpful. There are numerous histories regarding Baptists in America, but I name these two books above others for this subject because they include some of the original documents. This allows us to form some opinions on our own, rather than just take the interpretations that others have formulated. They are:

    A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage by H. Leon McBeth
    A Baptist Source Book by Robert A. Baker

    I am also quoting from Baker in the Southern Baptist Beginnings article to perhaps clarify a little of the difference between a societal and conventional (associational) organizational structure:
     
  5. JValen

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    History can sometimes be based on "human speculation",too.Not many admitt they're wrong.This world and all religions will one day pass away. Many label themselves Christians, label themselves denominations, but all God really cares about is WHO is really a child of the Word. Those are His sheep. Yes, I am a Baptist, cause I am a member of a Baptist church, but no certain denomination is is "THE CHURCH".
    Remember God owns the Scales and the weights to judge, and Only HE is TRUTH always.
    We need to stop bragging, and realize all churches committ sin and are imperfect. Christ is NOT about religion, but about WHO are in the Book of the Lamb. Many among the sheep will be wolves.
    God knows our hearts. You can try to be one thing, belong to some "groups" , But you belong not from where you come from,or who you believe you are, but by God's Grace and what we mean to HIM. It is not based on US.Many read the Word of God, and were racist against blacks. There's even KKK that call themselves Christian. There's a difference between a SLAVE and a SERVANT. The Civil War was painful and is the past. Time to live in the PRESENT, it can end any day.

    [ June 24, 2002, 02:34 PM: Message edited by: JValen ]
     
  6. Hardsheller

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    You wrote - It's time to live in the present!

    But JValen, that's what a history discussion is all about! We study history and learn from it so that we don't make the same mistakes again.

    Even Jesus referred to the Old Testament which was revealed history.

    If you ask me I think a lot of the problems Baptists of all stripes are experiencing stem from their lack of understanding of Baptist History and Historic Baptist Theology.

    Just my 2 cents worth.....
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    AMEN, Hardsheller! You just made a friend on the internet here!!!
     
  8. FearNot

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    Hey, one more added fact that was skipped, one of the real reasons that the test was done was because the northern Baptist had no problem accepting the southern Baptist's money, but then would not allow them to do any missions work or anything of the kind. The northen Baptist were being hypocritical. If they had such strong feelings against slavery, they wouldn't accept the southern money at all. That was why the test case was performed, to provide evidence for the south's thoughts of what was being done. The northern Baptist didn't like the southern Baptist and the slavery issue was a partial skape goat. I have a book at home on the Concervative resourgance, I can't remember the title, I believe it was by Sutton, not positive, I will get the title and author and post it later. The book goes into detail of the history of the SBC. I will aggree that some things done back then were wrong, but there was wrong done on both sides. Today, we conservatives are simply doing the best we can to obey Scripture, not just the parts we like. Obediance is hard, and sometimes it hurts to do so, but to be devoted to God sometimes walking the narrow hard road. God bless
     
  9. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    FearNot, an analogous situation would be the number of CBF churches that the SBC now accepts money from, even though it would not send those churches' members out as missionaries either.

    Funny how everything old is new again.

    Joshua
     
  10. FearNot

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    Dear Rev., well if a member of their church designates the money to go to the SBC they are required by law to send it to the SBC. Which is the case in many situations. Some church bodies give to both associations. That is simple. The SBC will not fund a person to be a missionary who does not hold the same beliefs as the association. That would be lioke sending a math teacher to teach mechanics.
     

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