Formation Of The Baptist Bible Union -- By: Anonymous

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

Formation Of The Baptist Bible Union

The Baptist Bible Union can be traced to the Indianapolis convention of 1922. Ashworth seems to have been drawing on supposition when he wrote that the recently-organized Baptist Bible Union injected its influence into that 1922 convention. The Executive Committee Minutes of June, 1923, record that Heaton and J. W. Jacobus were invited to sit in the meeting. Heaton, an eye-witness from the beginning, wrote, “In 1922 we met in Indianapolis and there the Baptist Bible Union was conceived. It followed a rejection by the convention of the resolution to adopt the New Hampshire Confession….” In conversation, Ketcham recalled positively that R. E. Neighbour was the one man really responsible for the founding of the Baptist Bible Union, and Riley in 1924 named both Neighbour and Van Osdel. Years later Van Osdel wrote, “Dr. R. E. Neighbour was one of the leading spirits in this movement, and later when a meeting was called for interested parties to meet in Chicago he prevailed upon Dr. W. B. Riley and Dr. J. Frank Norris to join our ranks and make plans for the first great meeting held in Kansas City just previous to the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Riley succeeded in persuading Dr. T. T. Shields to be present at the Kansas City meeting and to accept the presidency. “In the same article Van Osdel stated that the Baptist Bible Union began during the 1922 convention, when quite a number of men from various parts of the country gathered “in an upper room in one of the hotels, and there prayed and conferred together as they expressed their desire for a fellowship uncontaminated by unbelief and unbelievers.” This statement confirms the observations made below that at the beginning there was real separatist sentiment in the Bible Union.

The Confession Of Faith

As to when the meeting in Chicago took place, no record has been found, but apparently it was late in 1922. The first confession of faith was distributed in March, 1923. By the winter of 1922–23, then, an executive committee had been organized, as well as a committee on confession. The Executive Committee included Riley, Neighbour, Van Osdel, William Pettingill, and J. Frank Norris. Pettingill was dean of the Philadelphia School of the Bible. Norris had been for thirteen years pastor of the First Church, Fort Worth, Texas. The committee on confession included at least Riley and Norris. In a letter from Norris to Riley, May 4, 1929, a copy of which was found in Shields’ files, this paragraph appears: “I believe in the Baptist Bible Union, and as I go back over those days that you and I spent in preparing the Confession of Faith—oh what wonderful days, what precious memories! Those days in Keokuk, Iowa, when we would walk through the snow...

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