One In Hope And Doctrine: Origins of Baptist Fundamentalism 1870-1950Kevin Bauder and Robert Delnay have delivered a long awaited story of fundamentalism written by fundamentalists. Both men are contemporaries and well known among today’s associations, fellowships, schools, and churches. The book is a 2014 Regular Baptist Press volume.
If the book has a primary focus it is the history of the fundamentalists in the north, primarily the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, followed by some significant interaction with prominent fundamentalists in the south. Of the 387 pages of text, the first 262 pages are a history of the men who formed the GARBC from their departure from the Northern Baptist Convention through the Baptist Bible Union years, to the formation of the GARBC and beyond. In order to give the proper context, the authors begin in the mid 1800s with the beginning of the Northern Baptist Convention and its quick slide into liberalism. Some fundamentalists (eventually called the “stay-inners”)tried to steer the convention away but to no avail. The strongest voice for separatism in those days was Oliver W. Van Osdel, later to become instrumental in the forming of the GARBC, who watched as the battle lines were drawn. Even more prominent among northern fundamentalists were A.J. Gordon of Boston (in the early days), W.B. Riley of Minneapolis, T.T. Shields of Toronto, and J. Frank Norris of Ft. Worth in the south. (and mention of a host of other worthy fundamentalist leaders).
In 1923 Riley, Shields, and Norris were prominent in forming the Baptist Bible Union. Interesting is the history of the fiasco of Des Moines University, something that students rarely hear or understand these days. During this time independent mission organizations and Bible Schools were formed. The real problem, however, was the inclusive policy of the NBC that allowed men to fellowship both in the convention and with separatist organizations. Once Des Moines University collapsed, the BBU could not hold together. A rising star in the Union was Robert Ketcham who, along with Van Osdel, pushed for a separatist organization built on truly Baptistic principles. In 1933 the Baptist Bible Union became the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. From this point to 1950 the authors describe various controversies which came and went. The book is a detailed, almost tedious, account of these years through these 262 pages.
Most important of these controversies was the departure of Shields, Riley, and Norris from the BBU and the GARBC. These departures formed other fellowships, schools, and mission agencies that affected American fundamentalism for the rest of the 20th century. At this point the authors have inserted three connected histories that are crucial to others besides the GARBC. They are the legacy of J. Frank Norris and the splinter groups formed (WBF and BBF); the Sword fellowship associated with John R. Rice; and the Conservative Baptist movement and its offshoots with R.V. Clearwaters and Myron Cedarholm. Also included at the end of the Norris Legacy is the influence of Jack Hyles due to his successful southern style applied to ministry in the north.
At this point the book becomes especially valuable to pastors today and ought to be required reading for college and seminary students in fundamental Baptist schools. Within the pages on the Norris Legacy, the authors describe in great detail the conflict between Norris and Robert Ketcham, one which highlights the many foibles of J. Frank Norris. But I would recommend a young pastor or student begin reading on page 298 where Bauder and Delnay, having described the unique ministry of Jack Hyles, stop to describe the differences between the northern and southern fundamentalists. They delve into at least nine differences that will directly affect one’s ministry. They are: the type of public invitation, crisis decisions or progressive sanctification, hard preaching or incremental exhortation, evangelistic or teaching priority, ecclesiastical or personal separation, universal church or Landmark ecclesiology, Calvinistic or anti-Calvinistic theology, and pastoral or congregational church authority. Many pastors practice on both sides of these issues without realizing their history.
From there I would recommend starting again at page 314, the controversy between John R. Rice and L.S. Chafer over Chafer’s 1919 book, True Evangelism. Chafer, once a revivalist himself, became convinced of the sham tactics of many evangelists and wrote his book sharply criticizing nearly every aspect of evangelistic meetings including the invitation, soul winning tactics, and moralistic preaching. Rice took special offense over the book even though he didn’t read it until the early 1940s. This began a long and mostly one-sided debate between the two that never was resolved. The division, however, still defines independent Baptists today over these issues and more. This is something young men should read early in their ministry as well.
The book ends with a retrace of the northern history which leads up to the formation of the Conservative Baptist movement. The authors place the Conservative Baptists between the “stay-inners” of the NBC and the “come-outers” of the GARBC, keeping a foot in the Northern Convention as well as the newer separatistic movements. This was largely done for purposes of recovering church properties and assets. The history of the Conservative Baptists is left for another book. This book is a scholarly and well-documented treatment of fundamentalists, especially in the north. I think it will become a standard in fundamentalist schools.