(Review) Baptists In America by Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Genre: Nonfiction, Baptist history.
Source: Free ARC ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
@ Oxford University Press
Baptists in America is the biography of the Baptist denomination. The primary focus is Baptist history in America, but the authors back up to define baptism and the beginnings of the denomination in Europe. The beginnings of baptism (its history and change from submersion to infant baptism is explored.) The Reformation in Europe, which led to branches of Protestant denominations is studied. The early years of Baptists in America did not have a good reputation and this is examined.
The following chapters show the organization of the book.
"Chapter 1: Colonial Outlaws
Chapter 2: The Great Awakening
Chapter 3: Baptists and the American Revolution
Chapter 4: Baptists and Disestablishment
Chapter 5: Baptists and the Great Revival
Chapter 6: Baptists and Slavery
Chapter 7: Slavery, Schism, and War
Chapter 8: Black Baptists in Babylon
Chapter 9: White Baptists and the American Mainstream
Chapter 10: Baptist Schism in the Early Twentieth Century
Chapter 11: Insiders and Outsiders at Mid-20th Century
Chapter 12: Baptists and the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 13: Schism in Zion: The Southern Baptist Controversy
Chapter 14: Conclusion"
This is the first book I've read on the history of Baptists. I've read articles in magazines sharing brief sections of Baptist history. Baptists in America is the first book I've seen that starts at the beginning of the Baptist denomination and follows its course in history through to the present.
My first reason in giving Baptists in America 5 stars for excellent, is the authors have shared both the negative and positive aspects of Baptist history. From the fractions and divisions in the denomination over doctrinal beliefs (that also continues to the present era), to Baptist views during the Civil War, slavery, Emancipation Proclamation, and Jim Crow Laws.
The chapter on Civil Rights during the 1960s was especially transparent, enlightening, educational, and convicting.
Its been uplifting to be reminded of key Baptist strengths: mission work (the Great Commission), solid serious Bible doctrine, and independence of the local church.
The chapter that meant the most to me was chapter 12, "Baptists and the Civil Rights Movement." I was born in 1964, my memories of the 1960s is sparse. The history of this era has become increasingly of interest, because I feel America gave birth not only to a new way of thinking but a new way of demonstrating and fighting for injustice. We can argue back and forth that this era had both good and bad things that happened; but a people group, an American people group, were no longer a silent passive group, but rose-up and defended themselves against oppression.
A second favorite chapter is chapter 8. This chapter explored Black Baptist history and how they created their own unique music, culture, and history.
Throughout the book men and women who shaped the Baptist denomination are written about, both liberal, moderate, and fundamentalist.
The next to last chapter is on the troubles that began in the mid 1980s. The "conservative resurgence." At this point I believe things have settled down, and a new generation of Baptists are not willing to place themselves in a kettle of the previous generations brewing.
I wish the authors had mentioned the Baptist General Convention of Texas. This organization formed during the controversy. I don't remember reading about this group in the book (perhaps I missed this?)
Lastly, while I was reading Baptists in America, I could not help but think that all through the generations Baptists have had an active part in history. Sometimes the history has been positive and sometimes the history has been negative.
My question is: What will this generation of Baptists in America be known for? What mark in history will we leave?
I wanted to share my family's Baptist heritage.
My maiden name is Hart. My Hart ancestor came from England to Pennsylvania in 1690. He was a Quaker. In a few short years he became a Baptist. He wrote an essay, "A testimony and caution to such as do make a profession of truth who are in scorn called Quakers and more especially such who profess to be ministers of the gospel of peace, that they should not be concerned in worldly government." Dated 1692.
Link @ Amazon,
Online reading link.
In 1697, he became a Baptist. As a Quaker he was a pastor. As a Baptist he was a pastor.
John Hart was an educated man. He was both literate and an orator. He had a strong reputation as a "great preacher."