James Robinson Graves: Staking the Boundaries of Baptist Identity

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B&H Publishing Group, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 238 pages
James Robinson Graves (1820-1893) is known for firmly believing that Baptists of his day needed clearly distinct markers in order to preserve a meaningful denominational identity. The founder of Landmarkism, his theology emphasized church succession (an unbroken trail of authentic congregations dating back to the New Testament), the local church (rather than the idea of a universal Body of Christ), and strict baptism guidelines.

In this first biography of Graves in more than eighty years, author James A. Patterson portrays the man as bold and brash. A native of Vermont who moved south to Nashville in 1845, the self-educated preacher and budding journalist would become a combative defender of the Baptist cause, engaging in public controversy with Methodists, Restorationists, and even fellow Baptists.

Ultimately, Graves sought to influence the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention in its formative period and was the primary shaper of the “Tennessee Tradition,” now considered a key strand of Southern Baptist life and identity. By focusing on Graves's understanding of essential Baptist boundary markers, this book assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the Landmark legacy. It concludes with an epilogue that discusses the enduring influence of his ideas in the decades after his death.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - David_Norman - LibraryThing

In the Studies of Baptist Life and Thought series (edited by Michael A. G. Haykin), B&H Academic seeks to reintroduce great, historical Baptist figures to a new generation. The series consists of ... Read full review

Not a biography

User Review  - Newell - Christianbook.com

The publisher describes the book as the “first biography of Graves in more than eighty years” but in reality the book suffers from an identity crisis, halting between two genres. It is both a book ... Read full review


The Nashville Years 184562 Part I
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Name Index

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About the author (2012)

James A. Patterson is university professor of Christian Thought and Tradition and associate dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

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