Formation Of The Northern Baptist Convention -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 07:3 (Fall 1964)
Article: Formation Of The Northern Baptist Convention
Author: Anonymous

Formation Of The Northern Baptist Convention

By the year 1900 the Baptists in the northern states were near the point of organizing into a denomination. They had at that time eight separate agencies to serve them, the strongest being the Foreign Society, the Home Society, and the Publication Society. In addition to these were the-Education Society, the Woman’s Home Mission Societies, east and west, the Foreign Bible Society, and the Young People’s Union. The national societies were independent and somewhat in competition. Each had its own personnel, constituency, financial campaigns and problems. Several had been in debt; in 1897 the Home and Foreign Societies’ combined deficit amounted to some $400,000, and while rich Baptists had helped raise the sum, Rockefeller, at least, seemed to be restive about the way deficit financing was coming to be the norm. Virtually every account of the founding of the Northern Baptist Convention prominently mentions the demand for organized, coordinated financing.

At the same time that Baptists, especially wealthy laymen, were noticing the financial problems of the Societies, others were beginning to take notice of the number of liberals in key positions. In 1906, A. H. Strong prefaced his enlarged “Systematic Theology” by stating his distress at the theological tendencies of the time, by decrying the influence of German denials, and by predicting secessions more serious than those of the Unitarian defection of a century before. Yet a year later Rauschenbusch, of Strong’s own faculty, was to publish some of these very tendencies and denials in his “Christianity and the Social Crisis.” In 1909 William Newton Clarke published “Sixty Years with the Bible,” affirming that his rationalism was

complete well before 1880. In 1896 a Dr. Nathaniel Schmidt was expelled from the faculty of Hamilton Seminary for denying the canon, inspiration, the supernatural, the miracles, the deity and resurrection of Christ, as well as “the ordinances as practiced by Baptists. “The New York Sun” of September 20, 1896, called it “the first big heresy controversy among Baptists. “Rauschenbusch defended Schmidt and apparently half-convinced the board of trustees. Shailer Mathews in his “New Faith for Old” gave the impression that the University of Chicago, and particularly the Divinity School, was openly liberal from the very beginning in 1892. Of the Baptist seminaries in the north only Central and Northern were still making any serious claim to Biblical orthodoxy by 1920. Rochester was under modernist control by 1912, Newton by 1914, Crozer by 1915, Colgate by 1918.

Other trends were also appearing. Strong in 1904 noted that membership was lagging, that laxity and worldliness wer...

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