In Search of the New Testament Church: The Baptist Story

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Mercer University Press, 2008 - Religion - 296 pages
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This work offers a survey on the history of Baptists. When John Smyth organized the first Baptist church, he wanted to establish the New Testament church; believer's baptism was the missing link. Baptists of subsequent eras often continued the search to embody 'New Testament Christianity'. Unique to surveys of Baptist life, Doug Weaver highlights this restorationist theme as a way to understand Baptist identity. Weaver does not force the theme, but the 'search' is ever present. It is found in the insistence upon believer's baptism, but also in examples like the Sabbath worship of Seventh Day Baptists, the 'nine rites' of colonial Separate Baptists, the women preachers of Free Will Baptists, the 'trail of blood' of Landmarkism, the social gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch, the 'fundamentals' of fundamentalism and the ministry of the European pioneer Johann Oncken. Like other recent Baptist studies, Weaver describes Baptist diversity. Still, he highlights the persistent commitment of most Baptists to an informal constellation of 'Baptist distinctives'. Alongside the quest for the New Testament church (and congregational community), Weaver especially highlights the Baptist commitment to religious liberty and the individual conscience. This emphasis, while later reinforced by Enlightenment ideals, could already be found in the biblicist piety of the earliest Baptists who insisted that individual believers must have the right to choose their religious beliefs because they would stand alone before God at the final judgment. Both chronological and thematic, this book addresses such themes as the role of women, the social gospel, ecumenism, charismatic influences, and theological emphases in Baptist life. The book's focus is America, but it also includes helpful introductory chapters on early English Baptists and international Baptists.
 

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Contents

Early English Baptists The Search for the New Testament Church Begins
9
Baptist Origins in America The Search for the New Testament Church Begins Again
32
Baptists in America during the Eighteenth Century The Quest for New Testament Faith through Revivalism and Religious Liberty
51
Antebellum America Baptist Democratization Denominational Centralization and Slavery or Baptists and Their Different Bibles
87
18501950 and Baptists in the North The Strength of Denominational Efficiency the Challenges of Rapid Change and Conflict
114
In Search of a New Testament Church Southern Style
146
1950 to the Present American Baptists Confront the Future
180
1950 to the Present Baptists in the South Battle for Denominational Identity
186
AfricanAmerican Baptists From the Slave Cabin to a National Podium
201
Baptists An International Movement
215
Epilogue
251
A Bibliographical Note
254
Index
279
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About the author (2008)

C. DOUGLAS WEAVER is the director of Undergraduate Studies in the department of Religion at Baylor University. He has taught Baptist History and other courses in the History of Christianity for over two decades. Weaver has written several books and articles, including The Healer Prophet: William Marrion Branham (Mercer, 1987). He is editing a new edition of E. Y. Mullins's Axioms of Religion and is co-editor of a new forthcoming series on Early English Baptist Texts.

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