Baptist Studies Bulletin April 2010

A Monthly Electronic Baptist Journal Bridging Yesterday and Today
(Vol. 9, No. 1)

Editor: Bruce T. Gourley, executive director, Baptist History & Heritage Society

The Baptist Studies Bulletin (BSB) is produced by the Baptist History & Heritage Society and provides scholarly analysis, informed editorials, book reviews, and special features for subscribers. Click here to access previous issues and to subscribe or unsubscribe from the BSB. Republishing of articles is allowed, but please provide credit and a link back to the Baptist Studies Bulletin.

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“The BSB Returns” – by Bruce T. Gourley
“The New Ascendancy of Religious History”
“Blogs Worth Reading”
“Baptists and Revivalism”(/a> – BH&HS Conference, June 3-5
Dates to Note


by Bruce T. Gourley

This month the Baptist Studies Bulletin returns under the sponsorship of the Baptist History and Heritage Society (BH&HS). Many have been the inquiries of readers over the past eight months, and I am grateful for the accompanying words of affirmation regarding the BSB during that time.

The short version of the story of the return of the BSB is that it moved with me to the BH&HS when I began my service as the new executive director of the Society earlier this month. In a broader perspective, the Society views the Bulletin as an excellent avenue to assist in telling the four-centuries-old story of Baptists in a 21st century world. The Bulletin has always focused heavily on our Baptist heritage, and this focus will continue. After all, the past is that which shapes the present and leads to the future. As astronomer Carl Sagan once noted, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”

The BSB will continue to feature analysis and editorials by Baptists young and old, well-known and emerging. In the coming months we will be running topical series alongside individual pieces and book reviews. As always, your feedback and suggestions regarding future Bulletin features are always welcome; you may contact me accordingly via email.


The academy gets religion

As a recent story in Christianity Today notes, religion is the hottest topic among members of the American Historical Association.

Here are a few quotes from the story:

“The study of religion is too important to be left in the hands of believers.

So claims David A. Hollinger, a professor of American history at the University of California at Berkeley, in his response to religion emerging as the hottest topic of study among members of the American Historical Association (AHA).

Perhaps surprisingly, leading evangelical scholars voiced general agreement with his basic premise.

“The practice of history is best served by many historians working from all their separate angles,” said Rick Kennedy, president of the Conference on Faith and History (CFH) and a professor of history at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. “What is good about the new surge in religious history is that something that was neglected is now gaining its rightful place.” ….

In an annual survey of AHA members, 7.7 percent of respondents selected religion as one of three areas of interest. That topped the 7.5 percent who chose cultural history, ranked number one for 15 years.”

Many Baptist historians will certainly welcome this news. In many respects, Baptist history is the story of America, sharing central themes such as democratic principles, freedom of conscience, religious liberty, and separation of church and state.

Furthermore, the current landscape of religion worldwide – growing fundamentalism, religious violence, denial of separation of church and state among a large segment of American Christians, cultural issues, post-denominational trends, and more – indicate that faith groups face serious challenges in the 21st century. As central players in the narrative of forming shared values and principles of freedom now cherished by many nations across the globe, Baptists have an opportunity to speak and be heard in a redemptive fashion in our world today and in the future.


Sifting through the clutter

Whether one is a “blogger” or not, blogs are now a part of most of our lives, dispensing opinions, editorials, family updates, and periodically, hard news.

Within the Baptist world of the 21st century, pastors, theologians, historians, journalists, Sunday school teachers, and students are all blogging. Among Southern Baptists, dismay over the financial decline of the Southern Baptist Convention has filled the “blogosphere” in recent months. Blogging is now an intentional and integral part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and even independent Baptist groups are utilizing the medium of blogging.

This month we draw your attention to a few recent, excellent Baptist blog posts that speak to our collective Baptist heritage and the present challenges of being Baptist.

A recent Crescent Hill Baptist Church (Louisville, Kentucky) blog post speaks to the widespread lack of understanding, among many Baptists, of our heritage. Teaching Baptists about their heritage of secular government laments that some Baptist “leaders” in America of the 21st century have never heard of Roger Williams. Perhaps you’ve had a conversation similar to that recounted in this post.

John Pierce, executive editor of Baptists Today, reminds us that the resurrection of Christ remains the greatest news imaginable, despite efforts by some churches to upstage the Christ event.

If you’re not familiar with the “Ask a Liberal Preacher” blog, it is worth adding to your blog reading list. Recently, this blog tackled the question, “Who are the ‘True’ Baptists?”

Finally, for those interested in the current dynamics of Southern Baptist life, a good blog starting point is Wade Burleson’s (Oklahoma pastor) “Grace and Truth to You.” A conservative, former trustee of the International Mission Board who was forced off the board, Burleson’s blogging career in many ways reflects the inner turmoil within SBC life of recent years. Burleson’s rebellion against SBC leaders plowed the field for a burgeoning crop of Southern Baptist individual and community blogs that variously defend, critique, and attack the current state of the so-called “Conservative Resurgence” (including SBC Today and SBC Voices). The importance of the blogosphere can be understood in the context that Southern Baptist bloggers now play a pivotal role in the shaping of the future of the Convention.


Baptist History & Heritage Society  Annual Conference
June 3-5, 2010
Georgetown, Kentucky

This year’s annual BH&HS Conference focuses on a theme long interwoven within the Baptist conscience: revivalism. Georgetown College and Georgetown Baptist Church, both in Georgetown, Kentucky, are the hosts. Keynote speakers and their topics are:

Bill Leonard, Dean of the School of Divinity and Professor of Church History, Wake Forest University. His topic will be, “Salvation and Sawdust: The Rise and Fall of a Baptist Conversion Liturgy.”

Loyd Allen, Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation, McAfee School of Theology. His topic will be, “Being Born Again – And Again, and Again: Conversion, Revivalism, and Baptist Spirituality.”

Sheila Klopfer, Assistant Professor of Religion, Georgetown College. Her topic will be, “The Betwixt and Between of Baptist Baptismal Theology in American History.”

David Music, Professor of Church Music at Baylor University.

The conference is open to Society members and the general public. For more information on the program, speakers, lodging, and travel information, click here.


Upcoming events of interest to Baptists

April 23-24           Arkansas CBF General Assembly (Little Rock)
April 23-24           Florida CBF General Assembly (Tampa)
April 23-24           South Carolina CBF General Assembly (Greenville)
April 23-24           Oklahoma CBF General Assembly (Norman)
April 23-24           Kentucky CBF Spring Gathering (Stanford)
April 24                  Tennessee CBF General Assembly (Memphis)
April 29-30          CBF West Spring Meeting (Boise, Idaho)
May 1-2                  Baptist World Alliance Day (BWA)
June 3-5                 Baptist History & Heritage Society Annual Conf. (Georgetown, KY)
June 24-25            National CBF General Assembly (Charlotte, NC)
July 28-Aug 1      20th Annual BWA Congress (Honolulu, Hawaii)

We welcome submissions to this list of Baptist events.