Baptists in America

Baptists in America

by Bill J. Leonard
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Baptists are a study in contrasts. From Little Dove Old Regular Baptist Church, up a hollow in the Appalachian Mountains, with its 25-member congregation, to the 18,000-strong Saddleback Valley Church in Orange County, California, where hymns appear on wide-screen projectors; from Jerry Falwell, Jesse Helms, and Tim LaHaye to Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson,

See more details below

Overview

Baptists are a study in contrasts. From Little Dove Old Regular Baptist Church, up a hollow in the Appalachian Mountains, with its 25-member congregation, to the 18,000-strong Saddleback Valley Church in Orange County, California, where hymns appear on wide-screen projectors; from Jerry Falwell, Jesse Helms, and Tim LaHaye to Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, and Maya Angelou, Baptist churches and their members have encompassed a range of theological interpretations and held a variety of social and political viewpoints. At first glance, Baptist theology seems classically Protestant in its emphasis on the Trinity, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture, salvation by faith alone, and baptism by immersion. Yet the interpretation and implementation of these beliefs have made Baptists one of the most fragmented denominations in the United States. Not surprisingly, they are often characterized as a people who "multiply by dividing."Baptists in America introduces readers to this fascinating and diverse denomination, offering a historical and sociological portrait of a group numbering some thirty million members. Bill J. Leonard traces the history of Baptists, beginning with their origins in seventeenth-century Holland and England. He examines the development of Baptist beliefs and practices, offering an overview of the various denominations and fellowships within Baptism. Leonard also considers the disputes surrounding the question of biblical authority, the ordinances (baptism and the Lord's Supper), congregational forms of church governance, and religious liberty.The social and political divisions among Baptists are often as dramatic, if not more so, than the theological divides. Leonard examines the role of Baptists in the Fundamentalist and Social Gospel movements of the early twentieth century. The Civil Rights movement began in African American Baptist churches. More recently, Baptists have been key figures in the growth of the Religious Right, criticizing the depravity of American popular culture, supporting school prayer, and championing other conservative social causes. Leonard also explores the social and religious issues currently dividing Baptists, including race, the ordination of women, the separation of church and state, and sexuality. In the final chapter Leonard discusses the future of Baptist identity in America.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Leonard (church history, Wake Forest Univ. Divinity Sch.) offers a comprehensive study of Baptists, who by the 1840s had become one of the largest denominations in America. Certainly, the historical facts presented here are well researched and documented and highly informative, but what truly makes this book exceptional is the attention that Leonard pays to the differences between various Baptist sects (e.g., Southern Baptists vs. American Baptists) and the unbiased manner in which he describes their beliefs and practices. He refers to the "overall messiness of the people called Baptists" and the controversies and disagreements over doctrine, theology, eschatology, Scripture, and social issues that erupt among them. This "messiness," he says, results from the Baptists believing that church affairs should be decided by the local congregation. Leonard carefully chronicles the clashes that stem from such a local polity in an instructive and compelling way. Anyone interested in American religious history or simply American history will find this an enlightening and substantively informative book. Highly recommended.-Wesley A. Mills, Empire State Coll., SUNY at Rochester Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Journal of Religion
Leonard's book demonstrates an equanimity badly lacking in many of the Baptist debates.

— Thomas S. Kidd

Journal of Southern History
This book covers everything important about the Baptists of America... With respect, balance, and an obvious, genuine love.

— John Crowley, Valdosta State University

Review and Expositor
This book provides an avenue for consideration of challenges that face Baptists in the dawn of this century.

— Omer Hancock

H-Amstdy
[An] excellent and informative volume.

— Paul Harvey

Church History
Baptists in America is engagingly written and remarkably comprehensive.

— James P. Byrd

ForeWord Magazine - Henry L. Carrigan

Leonard's superb historical and cultural study of this diverse denomination offers an understanding of this sometimes perplexing religious group.

ForeWord Magazine
Leonard's superb historical and cultural study of this diverse denomination offers an understanding of this sometimes perplexing religious group.

— Henry L. Carrigan, Jr.

Choice

Leonard has produced an excellent volume on Baptists in America... Recommended,

Journal of Religion - Thomas S. Kidd

Leonard's book demonstrates an equanimity badly lacking in many of the Baptist debates.

Journal of Southern History - John Crowley

This book covers everything important about the Baptists of America... With respect, balance, and an obvious, genuine love.

Review and Expositor - Omer Hancock

This book provides an avenue for consideration of challenges that face Baptists in the dawn of this century.

H-Amstdy - Paul Harvey

[An] excellent and informative volume.

Baptist History and Heritage - Michael E. Williams

An excellent overview of Baptist life in America.

Church History - James P. Byrd

Baptists in America is engagingly written and remarkably comprehensive.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231501712
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/14/2012
Series:
Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
4 MB

What People are saying about this

Walter B. Shurden

Bill J. Leonard's Baptists in America is amazingly comprehensive, engagingly relevant, and, typical of Leonard's work, artistically written. Accessible to the historically curious layperson, the book will also effectively serve as a college and seminary text. His predominantly topical approach enriches the study of American Baptist history, and, I believe, helps to promise that his book will have long life and lots of use.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >