SERVANTS AMONG US
CD

$12.95
9781627580038

Stories of the lives of 140 men who served from the years leading up to
the organization of the General Association to those who are currently
serving as elected officers of the American Baptist Association.

order online

 


 

 

     

 

 

CONTENDING
FOR THE FAITH

An Updated History of the Baptists

$39.99
0892113669

6" x 9"    776 pages
includes a CD of the book as a pdf file

order online

 

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HISTORY OF THE
AMERICAN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION

$29.95
4000002112

698 pages, hardbound,
with eleven chapters, appendix, and index

Foreword

     In C. H. Spurgeon’s August, 1868, review of J. M. Cramp’s Baptist History, he lamented the lack of knowledge of their own history among Baptist people. Spurgeon ventured three reasons for the historical deficit. One was that readers believe “religious communities which indulge too much in these investigations are apt to trust to the past, which in view of present necessities is about the worst thing a religious body could do.” Another reason was that Baptists “have had enough to do to fight for their very existence” to spend time “presenting the past history of their body.” Then, thirdly, he speculated that Baptist history “has been, for the most part, obscure and scanty.”

     The first two reasons may be viable, but with the publication of Contending for the Faith, An Updated History of the Baptists, the third excuse disappears. This historical volume is a collaborative project of the History and Archives Committee and the Baptist Sunday School Committee of the American Baptist Association.

     The purpose of Contending for the Faith is to update the History of the Baptists, written by John T. Christian in 1922 and 1926. Information from other authors has been added, as well as four chapters that brought the history from 1845 to the present. The intent is to present historical material within a format that would be clearly organized, thus enabling readers to better understand the history of the Baptists.

     Dr. Robert Ashcraft was asked by the Baptist Sunday School Committee to lead in the research and preparation of the manuscript. His first historical research was “A Historical Study of Higher Education in the American Baptist Association” which was done as a Ph. D. dissertation at East Texas State University in 1968. Other historical publications include: Pioneer Faith, The History of Missionary Baptist Associations and Churches in Arkansas from 1818 to 1920; History of the Pine Bluff Missionary Baptist Association; History of the Missionary Baptist Seminary; History of Texarkana Baptist Orphanage; History of Mexican Baptist Institute; History of the American Baptist Association, and Landmarkism Revisited.

     Dr. Ashcraft serves as Vice-chairman of the History and Archives Committee, which was chartered in 1974 by the American Baptist Association. He has been chairman of the State Association of Arkansas History and Archives Committee since 1987 and has been a regular participant among associational Baptists since 1947. His work in editing Contending for the Faith is the fruition of over fifty years of active ministry and historical study within the churches of the American Baptist Association.

     It is our prayer that Contending for the Faith will be helpful to students of church history in clearly presenting the history of the Baptists from the first century to the present.

 

Larry E. Clements, Editor in Chief
American Baptist Association

 

 

 

Introduction

 

      Contending for the Faith, An Updated History of the Baptists, basically follows the concepts of church succession presented by John T. Christian in his two volume History of the Baptists published in 1922 and 1926. Those familiar with the setting of Christian’s history will be aware that these volumes were the full development of Christians’ previous studies, Did They Dip? An Examination into the Act of Baptism as Practiced by the English and American Baptists Before the Year 1641.

      Then in 1902 Christian updated his studies in Baptist History Vindicated, as he further answered the contention of William H. Whitsitt that the Baptists did not immerse until the year 1641. Ben M. Bogard wrote, “This is the most valuable history published in recent years. Facts, hitherto unknown, or imperfectly known, are brought to light in this able work,”

      Students of history attempting to read and study from Christian’s history encounter the section headings being grouped at the beginning of each chapter, thereby they attempt to study long sections of the text without the benefit of headers to remind of the context and guide in the study. In addition, the documentation is in the body of the text. Also, the Christian history ends in 1845, which was before the organization of the Southern Baptist Convention, J. R. Graves and Landmarkism, the Fundamentalists movement of the 1920’s and the Baptist Resurgence, which began in 1979.

      In addition to Christian’s scholarly presentation of Baptist succession and his thorough exposures of the fallacy of Whitsitt’s contention that the Baptists did not dip until 1641, Contending for the Faith develops the basic concepts within the first century churches that have continued throughout the intervening centuries as essential doctrines and practices in developing the “Spiritual Kinship” aspect of church history so ably documented and presented by Thomas Armitage in his History of the Baptists, published in 1886.

      Contending for the Faith clarifies the rise of the Particular Baptists in England, and also substantiates the claim that the first Baptist church in America was established in Newport, RI through the ministry of Dr. John Clarke, with the assistance of Marke Luker.

 

Identifying “The Faith”

      Chapter I is titled, “Essentials of “The Faith” in the Early Churches.” This chapter identifies six “essentials” of “The Faith”:

      A. The Sacred Scriptures as the Authority for Faith and Practice

      B. Salvation by Grace Through Faith

      C. Baptism of the Believer by Immersion

      D. The Lord’s Supper as a Memorial or “In Remembrance”

      E. The Nature of the New Testament Churches

      F. Liberty of Conscience-No Church-State Relationship

 

      The subsequent chapters of this study identify these threads of “the faith” as they are interwoven into and preserved by different groups of Christians throughout the respective periods of church history. Needless to say, we may not identify them by name, but by beliefs and practices that emulate the Christians of the first churches.

 

      L. D. Foreman and J. R. Graves both used illustrations of how “The Faith” has been preserved through the ages.

      Foreman gave the illustration of a passenger train going thru a mountain tunnel. If we can visualize the train entering the tunnel, we can catch the Railroad logo and number on the locomotive, count the number of passenger cars, a baggage or mail car, and possibly other cars; as the train emerges from the tunnel we can positively identify the locomotive by the Railroad logo and number, count the number and kind of cars. Most would agree that if these essentials were the same, this is positive identification of the train that entered the tunnel.

 

Benefits of Church History Study

      J. R. Graves suggested, “Nothing can be more becoming a Christian than a general knowledge of Church HistoryC9“It teaches us religion, it shows us what we are to believe and practice, what errors are to be rejected, what things we are to imitate; it furnished us with abundance of examples of heroic virtue, and instructs in duty.”

      Graves questioned,

   Ought not Christians to interest themselves to learn the fulfillment of those promises of Christ himself concerning his Church and people? “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” “lo, I am with you always even unto the end.” These promises certainly secure the integrity and perpetuity of churches of Christ in and through all subsequent ages, even unto the end of this dispensation.  

 

      Thomas Armitage wrote,

   The best service that can be rendered to the Baptists is, to trace the noiseless energy and native immortality of the doctrines which they held, after all their conflicts, to the glory of Christ, for it is exactly here that we see their excellency as a people. If it can be shown that their churches are the most like the Apostolic that now exist, and that the elements which make them so have passed successfully through the long struggle, succession from the times of their blessed Lord gives them the noblest history any people can crave. 

 

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

     Special thanks to the Baptist Sunday School Committee for their understanding in resuscitating and continuing the project that resulted in this updated history of the Baptists. The History and Archives Committee initiated this project several years ago with the idea of abridging the History of the Baptists as written by Dr. John T. Christian in 1922 and 1926.  After the project was given new life and direction, the Committee felt an entirely new history should be developed rather than an abridgement of the work of Dr. Christian. The Sunday School Committee requested the History and Archives Committee to prepare the manuscript for Bogard Press. The History and Archives Committee requested this writer to research and prepare the manuscript.  

     Larry E. Clements, Editor-in-Chief, asked that at least one member of the History and Archives Committee read each chapter. The committee members—Donald Britton, Michael Thompson, L. D. Perdue, Larry Crouch, Philip Pevehouse and Terry Parrish—co-operated in honoring this request. Mike Yoho, Robert Francis and Dennis Richey, members of the Sunday School Committee, each read two chapters. Additionally, R. W. “Buddy” Keesee, pastor of Baseline Missionary Baptist Church, and Melvin Burris, pastor of West Bauxite Missionary Baptist Church, read most of the chapters. John Owen, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Malvern read the final four chapters.

     Also thanks to Larry E. Clements, Editor-in-Chief; Sally McInvale, Production Manager; Kyle Elkins who converted the Word document into a Quark PDF file and Jim Jones for the final editing. Wayne Sewell, Business Manager, was efficient in directing the actual publication of Contending for the Faith.

     An important commendation goes to my faithful wife who read and made suggestions for revising the manuscript several times. We both spent many hours editing and improving the manuscript, then tediously reduced it to the specified length.

     A posthumous thanks to Dr. Paul Goodwin, who as pastor and later as instructor, fostered an early interest in church history, especially in recommending Baptist Succession by D. B. Ray as one of the first three books to be read after I surrendered to the ministry in 1950.

     However, ultimate gratitude is given to our Heavenly Father who supplied the grace and ability to work through a manuscript and persevere until the work was completed.

     Therefore, thanks to all who had any part in producing Contending for the Faith, which I firmly believe will be a great help in teaching and understanding the history of the Baptists.

                                        Robert Ashcraft
March 22, 2006

 

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History of the American Baptist Association
To Commemorate the 75th
Meeting of the Association in June, 2000

 

• examines our roots, then explains how the Regular and Separate Baptists became United Baptists, and eventually Missionary Baptists

 

• helps us understand the desire of our fathers in the faith for a national association that recognizes the authority of each local congregation in fulfilling the Great Commission

 

• through carefully selected excerpts from the President's Messages and the resolutions, helps us understand the nature of associated work that recognizes church equality in missions, publications, etc.

 

• gives insight to how our publications work and mission programs were established and developed

 

• objectively documents the issues leading up to the split of 1950 and the results

 

• through the biographical sketches of former presidents and other leaders, helps us understand who they were and their contributions to our associated work

 

    The History and Archives Committee produced the History of the American Baptist Association to commemorate the 75th meeting of the Association in June, 2000. The following statements were in response to a request made by Bro. Steve Reeves, Director of Publicity for the A. B. A.

      Perhaps the most compelling desire was that all pastors and churches, as well as prospective pastors, would be able to understand the reasons the founders had in mind for first organizing a national association of Missionary Baptist churches. I felt this could best be done by delineating the situations that existed when the call was made for a meeting to discuss the organization.

      Another strong desire was that the actual inter-workings of the association of churches would be demonstrated. Therefore, the sections on missions and publications received considerable attention. In addition, the carefully selected resolutions presented to the messengers were intended to indicate responses to situations that were of importance.

      A further objective was biographical information on some of the early leaders. Previously, little was known about J. A. Scarboro, H. B. Pender, and J. T. Moore. The biographical sketches show the tremendous influence those men exercised.

      Finally, many have asked just what was the importance of Ben M. Bogard? Why was he honored by the adoption of the name Bogard Press as the official name of our publications? Hopefully, the section on the influence of Ben M. Bogard will answer those questions.

      It is my personal conviction that every A. B. A. pastor, and ministerial student, should be familiar with the contents of the history to understand the nature and purpose of the association. Every church library should have a copy as a reference to those interested in the associated work.

 

This History is unique in several ways:

      1. It is the history of the largest and oldest national association based on the Landmark principles espoused by J. R. Graves, J. M. Pendleton, J. N. Hall and Ben M. Bogard.
      When applied to Baptists, the term “Landmark” denotes a set of beliefs that place a strong emphasis upon the local church as the central unit for all religious activity. Characteristic beliefs of Landmark Baptists are:

      a. An insistence upon a historic succession of Baptist-like churches from New Testament times until the present,
      b. A rejection of the practices of pulpit affili-ation, union meetings and the receiving of alien immersion.
      c. Also rejected by Landmark Baptists is the concept of “conventionism,” that is, a centralized denominational organization that sets policy and initiates programs.
      d. Landmark Baptists also practice restricted or “closed” communion, limiting participation in the Lord’s Supper to the membership of each local church.
      Although the tenets of Landmarkism may be found in earlier Baptist groups, they were first for-malized in June of 1851 in the famous “Cotton Grove Resolutions” authored by Dr. J. R. Graves, editor of the Tennessee Baptist.
      The first national association orga-nized in accordance with Landmark teachings and practices was the General Association, organized in 1905. In 1924 many Texas and Oklahoma churches were added and the name was changed to the American Baptist Association.

      2. The History gives an alternative view to the generally accepted position that Roger Williams led in organizing the first Baptist Church in America.
      It is amazing how factual inaccuracies are repeated until they are generally accepted. The History deals with this issue in a rather decisive manner. Two paragraphs will be quoted from pages 12-13:
      “The reliable records state that the present First Baptist Church [Providence] was regularly constituted and jointly or successively served by Charles Brown, Wickenden, and Dexter in 1652, thirteen years after Roger Williams “had left the Baptists and had publicly declared there was no church in the Bay that had any authority to administer the ordinances.”
      Dr. J. R. Graves concluded the matter: “If then, the last remains of the only thing called a Baptist Church, with which Williams had any connection or anything to do, vanished from the earth so soon, having in the days of Mather no successor, the reader must conclude that Williams’ society was not a prolific mother of the Baptist Churches of New England, much less of America, for it never had a church child, it was itself an abortion.”[J. R. Graves, The First Baptist Church in America, pp. 330, 35]

      3. The History details the origin of the Regular and Separate Baptists, who eventually became United Baptists, and finally Missionary Baptists.
      Our brethren usually trace our beginnings through New England, and through the Regular Baptists via the Philadelphia Association. However, we are more like the Separate Baptists in doctrine and practice. The History gives the beginning of both Baptist groups, then relates how they eventually combined, first in Virginia, then in Kentucky to become United Baptists and then Missionary Baptists.

      4. The History explains the desire and foundation for a national association of churches that recognizes the authority and responsibility of local congregations in fulfilling the Great Commission. Also, details the factors leading up to the “split” of 1950 that had church authority as one of the basic issues.

      5. The History relates the spread of these concepts into the various states and foreign mission fields. Most of these articles were written by people from each respective area, including foreign missionaries on the field.

      6. The appendix gives biographical information on Presidents and other associational leaders, history of schools sponsored by churches fellowshiping in the association, and Texarkana Baptist Orphanage.

Robert Ashcraft,
General Editor