August 16, 2017

Baptist Fundamentals

In 1920, prior to the main meeting of the Northern Baptist Convention, Bible-believing Baptists were called to a pre-Convention Convention. This was known as the Fundamental Fellowship and is the seminal meeting of Baptists who continue to meet to this day as the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, although the connection with the Northern Convention (now American Baptist Convention) has long since been severed.

One fruit of that initial meeting was a book called Baptist Fundamentals, “Being,” as it was said in the sub-title, “Addresses Delivered at the Pre-Convention Conference at Buffalo, June 21 and 22, 1920.” We think it is interesting to look back and consider what those Baptists almost 100 years ago had to say. We plan to publish addresses from it in the coming weeks and would like to start today with the introduction, written by Curtis Lee Laws.

Our copy of this material comes to us via Maranatha Baptist University and their “Roger Williams Heritage Archives,” a collection of out of print Baptist works in the Logos format. We include their editorial introduction to the set at the end of this article. Material copyrighted by Maranatha Baptist University is published here with permission.

Introduction

The Baptists of the United States should thank God and take courage. God has greatly blessed and prospered us. In 1794, there was one Baptist to every ninety-four of our population; in 1840, one to every thirty; in 1900, one to every nineteen. Today we have in our church-membership one-fifteenth of the population of the United States, and certainly one-fifth of the people of the Nation are Baptists in sentiment and sympathy. But our distinctive principles have grown in popularity more rapidly than our churches have grown in membership. Indeed many of the principles for which our Baptist fathers did battle royal, have now become the cherished heritage of the whole Christian church.

The prosperity with which God has blessed us opens to us many doors of opportunity and places upon us a great burden of responsibility. Thanking God for the past, let us face the future with new courage. We must still safeguard the truths for the advocacy of which our fathers here in free America were cruelly flogged and imprisoned. Soul-liberty and separation of Church and State still need champions. Baptists still need to proclaim the spirituality of the ordinances and to make unceasing warfare on sacramentarianism and ecclesiasticism.

Our fathers held to our distinctive principles with tenacity and proclaimed them with enthusiasm. In every controversy their appeal was to the Bible. The scholarship of the world agrees that the unmistakable teaching of God’s Word is embodied in our fundamental Baptist principles. Through three centuries our fathers fought for the principles which they held dear, and now victory has come. But in the very day of our victory we are in danger of losing the fruits of the victory. The children of those with whom our fathers contended are now meeting us with a bland smile and an outstretched hand, saying: “We are willing to grant your contention, but after all ought we not to minimize our differences and get together for the great forward work of the kingdom? Ought forms and ordinances and polity to keep us apart when we need to present to the world a solid front?” Having fought valiantly for the truth through the centuries, are we now to compromise with error in the name of tolerance, fraternity, and Christian charity? The Baptist fathers conquered error on the fields of battle. Are their sons to compromise with error at drawing-room conferences?

Not only we are in danger of compromising our distinctive Baptist principles, we are also in danger of compromising our more fundamental Christian principles. The recent Interchurch World Movement emasculated Christianity by eliminating all doctrinal emphasis from its pronouncements and appeals. It had no doctrinal basis, and yet it sought to explain to the world the meaning of Christianity. Because it represented everybody, it was under obligations to offend nobody. The movement represented the compromising spirit of the age, and yet Northern Baptists were foremost among its promoters! Within our own fold we hail as leaders men who deny the miraculous birth of Christ, the vicarious death of Christ, the triumphant resurrection of Christ, and the promised second coming of Christ. If one dares to raise his voice in protest, someone immediately hauls up the banner of Christian charity and seeks to cover with its folds the teaching that denies our Lord, meanwhile saying: “Yes, we have radical differences among us, but surely the Baptist denomination is big enough, generous enough, charitable enough to include men of all shades of opinion. Let us soft-pedal doctrinal differences and get together by a working together.” This subtle appeal put forth in the name of tolerance and charity is utterly at variance with Paul’s [sic] admonition that we “contend earnestly for the faith.”

A month before the assembling of the Northern Baptist Convention in Buffalo, a call for a Pre-Convention Conference on Fundamentals of Our Baptist Faith was sent out by one hundred and fifty ministers and laymen. The call said:

We believe that there rests upon us as Baptists an immediate and urgent duty to restate, reaffirm, and reemphasize the fundamentals of our New Testament faith. Beyond all doubt the vast majority of our Baptist people are as loyal as were our fathers to our Baptist principles and our Baptist policy, but this loyalty will not long continue unless something is done to stay the rising tide of liberalism and rationalism and to preserve our principles in their simplicity and purity.

A program was arranged by the group of men who were primarily responsible for the conference. The speakers were given the utmost liberty, because it was understood that each speaker would speak for himself alone. The addresses were received with much favor by the great host that the conference brought together. The demand for the publication of these addresses was general, and in response to that demand this volume is being sent forth. That it will have a wide reading and produce a profound impression goes without saying.

The Buffalo conference was more than a passing incident in our denominational life. It was a demonstration of the fact that our people “view with increasing alarm the havoc which rationalism is working in our churches as evidenced by the drift upon the part of many of our ministers from the fundamentals of our holy faith.” The conference was thoroughly representative of the rank and file of our denomination, and this fact is significant and prophetic. It means that throughout our denomination, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, our people are determined to do their utmost “to stay the rising tide of liberalism and rationalism and to preserve our principles in their simplicity and purity.”

This book will cheer the heart and strengthen the hands of those who will devote themselves to this holy task.

Curtis Lee Laws.

Office ofThe Watchman-Examiner,”

New York City.

General Conference on Fundamentals

To All Baptists within the Bounds of the Northern Convention.

Greeting:

We view with increasing alarm the havoc which rationalism is working in our churches as evidenced by the drift upon the part of many of our ministers from the fundamentals of our holy faith. The teaching in many of our educational institutions is proving disastrous to the faith of the young men and women who are to be the leaders of the future. A wide-spread and growing worldliness has crept into the churches, a worldliness which has robbed us of power and brought upon us open shame.

We believe that there rests upon us as Baptists an immediate and urgent duty to restate, reaffirm, and reemphasize the fundamentals of our New Testament faith. Beyond all doubt the vast majority of our Baptist people are as loyal as were our fathers to our Baptist principles and our Baptist policy, but this loyalty will not long continue unless something is done to stay the rising tide of liberalism and rationalism and to preserve our principles in their simplicity and purity.

Therefore, acting upon our own initiative as your brethren, we issue this call for a conference on “The Fundamentals of Our Baptist Faith,” to be held in the Delaware Avenue Church, Buffalo, from 7 p.m., Monday, June 21, to 9.30 p.m., Tuesday, June 22. These dates immediately precede the meeting of the Northern Baptist Convention.

All Baptists within the bounds of the Northern Convention are invited to attend this conference. Let increasing prayer be made for the guidance and favor of God.

Adopted April 21, 1920.

Your brethren in Christ,

J. C. Massee

Curtis Lee Laws

Joel B. Slocum

Tillman B. Johnson

John Roach Straton

John Donaldson

Warren Steeves

A. G. Archibald

J. D. Adams

Floyd H. Adams

George D. Adams

J. Whitcomb Brougher

Christopher Burnett

F. O. Belden

Charles R. Brock

Guy L. Brown

Thomas Bolger

W. S. Bradshaw

John Compton Ball

Daniel Bryant

W. W. Bustard

E. H. Bancroft

M. P. Boynton

John E. Briggs

Edward Babcock

R. B. Benjamin

A. W. Bourne

J. Francis Behrens

Harry Watson Barras

T. H. Binford

John H. Byrne

John B. Champion

S. W. Cummings

J. A. Campbell

Charles A. Cook

John H. Chapman

Russell H. Conwell

J. E. Conant

I. W. Carpenter

Amos F. Chase

C. A. Chader

W. Dallas Cope

Eric Carlson

F. E. Dark

George Douglas

John M. Dean

A. C. Dixon

A. A. De Larme

W. F. Dissette

John A. Davis

J. H. Davis

Groves W. Drew

I. N. Du Puy

M. G. Dickinson

E. H. Emett

W. T. Elmore

O. P. Eaches

F. W. Farr

B. F. Fellman

H. H. Gill

Frank M. Goodchild

Joshua Gravett

John R. Gunn

William L. Haines

M. E. Hare

Charles H. S. Hicks

John A. Hainer

J. Heinrichs

J. Q. A. Henry

John C. Haswell

J. W. Hoyt

C. H. Heaton

V. E. Hedberg

C. T. Harper

W. B. Hinson

Albert Johnson

F. W. Johnson

T. C. Johnson

E. A. Harrar

David Lee Jamison

Gove G. Johnson

C. S. Kerfoot

Volney P. Kinne

George M. Knights

W. B. Kelley

Charles M. Kessler

Luther Keller

Clarence Larkin

G. A. Lawson

H. C. Leach

W. J. Lockhart

Charles F. McKoy

H. O. Meyer

J. A. Maxwell

A. Z. Myers

Lawrence A. Meade

W. C. Myers

George McNeely

Cortland Myers

J. J. Muir

R. B. McDanel

John Muntz

David Miller

W. E. Needham

Swaney Nelson

F. W. O’Brien

A. H. O’Brien

A. E. Plue

William L. Pettingill

Arnold V. Pent

Joseph B. Rogers

F. W. Randall

John B. Remmey

L. E. Reed

A. J. Rowland

W. B. Riley

D. F. Rittenhouse

W. H. Rogers

Samuel Russell

J. J. Ross

H. F. Remington

John A. Swanson

Granville H. Sheip

Alfred Schmitthenner

John Snape

S. H. Snashall

M. T. Shelford

William T. Sheppard

J. B. Smith

George W. Taft

B. C. Taylor

Cary S. Thomas

H. Stewart Tillis

M. C. Treat

W. Leon Tucker

Alex. Thomson

Albert L. Townsend

J. M. Tyson

J. Francis Vought

George M. Vercoe

Frederick R. Vine

Nathan E. Wood

M. L. Wood

T. J. Whitaker

O. Lee Warren

C. H. Woolston

J. F. Watson

Joshua E. Wills

J. F. Rake

A. F. Williamson

W. Ward Willis

Walter Whitley

J. W. Weddell

A. C. Warner

W. W. Weeks

G. W. McPherson

Roger Williams Heritage Archives Editor’s Note

Classic Baptist Books is an arm of The Roger Williams Heritage Archives, which is a ministry of Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Watertown, Wisconsin. The purpose of the Classic Baptist Books collection is to put into easy access Baptist works which either have gone out of print, are in print but difficult to obtain, or are of such significance that an electronically searchable edition offers significant benefits to the Baptist community. When the College received a sizable collection of Baptist works from its first Academic Dean, Dr. Richard C. Weeks, many of which have been out of print for long years and some almost completely unavailable today even in the used market, the desire immediately arose to put these into a format available for anyone to access.

The editors of the Roger Williams Heritage Archives have attempted to maintain the original appearance as much as possible in the conversion to an electronic format. Original page divisions have been preserved for bibliographic purposes. The text has been carefully proofed, but we cannot guarantee that mistakes have not occurred in the transition from a printed text to an electronic text. Mistakes originally in the printed text have not been corrected. It is not our purpose to rewrite or correct these writings. Old spellings have been left unchanged. Errors of fact are usually footnoted; editorial footnotes will always be identified as “RWHA Editor.” Material added by the Editors of the Roger Williams Heritage Archives is copyrighted by the Archives and may not be quoted without prior written permission from the Roger Williams Heritage Archives.


Editor, Roger Williams Heritage Archives


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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