The Crucial Buffalo Debate In The Northern Baptist Convention -- By: Robert Delnay

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 06:4 (Winter 1963)
Article: The Crucial Buffalo Debate In The Northern Baptist Convention
Author: Robert Delnay


The Crucial Buffalo Debate In The Northern Baptist Convention

Robert Delnay

Professor of Church History. Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary

Prior to the Buffalo Convention of 1920, a large number of Baptists met for what was to prove the first, fundamentalist pre-convention conference. The New World Movement, with its strong social gospel emphasis and its goal of $100,000,000, had occasioned a great protest, movement. Over the signature of 156 avowed fundamentalists, the orthodox had been invited to a great rally to be held the day before the convention was to begin. That rally attracted as many as 3,000 people to hear the thirteen prominent men who spoke, J. C. Massee, F. L,. Anderson, T. J. Villers, Frank Goodchild, E. W. Hunt, John M. Dean, S. ,W. Cummings, J. W, Porter, A. C. Dixon, W. W. Bustard, Cortland Myers, W. B.; Riley, and J. W. Brougher. Of these, all but Anderson may be identified as fundamentalists.

The most important issue in the Buffalo conference was the fact that modernists were in control of the denomination. The nagging evidence of this was the New World Movement, the convention’s share in the great Interchurch World Movement. While the New World Movement had fallen some $35,000,000 short of its goal, and even its modernist backers were prepared to drop it, it still constituted a painful issue. The addresses in the conference dealt with both the modernist control and the program.

The second great issue was the denominational paper, “The Baptist.” At Denver the previous year the same resolutions that brought about the New World Movement authorized the publication of a weekly paper to represent the Northern Baptist Convention, this paper to be known as “The Baptist.” This began publication in January of 1920, in the Chicago offices of “The Standard,” which it had bought, and it faithfully continued to reflect the liberal editorial policy of “The Standard.” Since the new paper was still requiring a heavy subsidy to continue publication, the fundamentalists were in effect being taxed to maintain a modernist weekly purporting to represent the whole denomination.

The third great issue was the defection of the schools to modernism. To deal with this, the conference framed a resolution to be presented on the convention floor, calling for a committee of nine to investigate the schools, colleges and seminaries of the Northern Baptist Convention, and a report to be made the following year. The resolution named these men to the committee: Frank Goodchild, I. W. Carpenter, J. W. Brougher, Henry Bond, W. B. Riley, C. R. Brock, E. S. Clinch, A. K. de Blois, and J. J. Ross.

The pre-convention conferenc...

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