Powerpoint - Central Baptist Theological Seminary

“Standing Firm”
Lecture Two:
Early Opposition to Liberalism
Where We’re Going
 Nineteenth Century Northern Baptist opposition.
 The Bible Conference movement.
 Controversy in the Grand Rapids Baptist Association.
 The Founding of Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.
 The Fundamentals: A Testimony for the Truth.
19th Century, Northern Baptists
 Opposition to liberalism became evident during the 1880s.
 1882, a review by O. S. Stearns in the Baptist Quarterly Review.
 1883, an address by Alvah Hovey at the Baptist Autumnal
1883, an article by Howard Osgood in the Baptist Quarterly
1883, an article by P. S. Evans in the Baptist Quarterly Review.
The focus was primarily upon destructive higher criticism.
The tone was concessive, with the objectors hoping that
further study would vindicate the traditional approach.
George William Lasher
 Editor of the Journal and Messenger from 1876 until his death
in 1920.
Involved in the controversy over Crawford Howell Toy in
Supported the firing of Ezra Gould in 1881.
Criticized William Newton Clarke.
Opposed both William Rainey Harper and George Burman
Foster at Chicago.
Personal friend of Walter Rauschenbusch, but vigorous
opponent of Rauschenbusch’s social gospel.
Significant Controversies
 1892 at the Baptist Autumnal Conference. T. A. T. Hanna
spoke for biblical inerrancy, D. G. Lyon and J. B. G. Pidge
downplayed it. Howard Osgood and J. W. Wilmarth came in
on Hanna’s side, but Nathaniel Schmidt supported Lyon and
Pidge. Ezekiel Robinson opposed Hanna and Osgood by
name. Hanna’s (rather heated) reply was dismissed with
 1895 in the Baptist Quarterly Review. Normal Fox expressed
liberal views, aroused a strong backlash. Several participated
in the exchange, notably Heman Lincoln and George D. B.
The Moderate Party
 Some of the moderates held liberal theology, but most were
The moderates saw liberalism as a mistake but not a threat.
Their real concern was that the denominational program
would suffer in any conflict between conservatives and
The moderate tactic was to push for breadth and toleration.
This tactic played directly into the hands of the liberals: they
were happy to tolerate conservatives because they needed
conservative money.
Eri Hulbert, Moderate Example
 Hulbert was a transitional figure and dean at UCDS.
 “If the old and the new are to fight it will be a fight all along
the line, among pastors, between schools, in churches,
associations, conventions, national societies. It will extend to
our young people, seminaries, mission fields, religious press,
to all our organized denominational activities. . . . If both
parties are to invite and keep up a satanic spirit Satan will
deservedly get them both in the end, and, perforce, the
denomination will go to the devil.”
 “The Baptist Outlook” in The English Reformation (Chicago,
The Bible Conference Movement
 Began with six men meeting at E. P. Goodwin’s church in
Chicago, 1875. “The Believers’ Meeting.” Met annually.
Two concerns: premillennialism and liberal theology.
Led to great, stand-alone prophecy conferences (New York
1878, Chicago 1886).
Produced dozens of annual Bible conferences (Niagara,
Seacliff, and others).
Eventually gave birth to the Bible schools and the faith
Adoniram Judson Gordon
 Leader in the Believers’
Meeting for Bible Study.
 Pastor of Clarendon Street
Baptist Church, Boston.
 Editor and publisher of the
 Edited two hymnals, wrote
music for fifteen hymns
(“My Jesus, I Love Thee”).
An Opponent of Liberalism
 Wrote against liberalism continuously in the Watchword.
 Board member at Newton, participated in firing Ezra Palmer
Gould (1882).
 Organized the “Baptist Pastors’ Conference for Bible Study”
in Brooklyn, 1890. Key rally against liberalism.
 Started the Boston Missionary Training School (now Gordon
College) to train lay workers; the Bible institutes became an
alternative to the seminaries as liberalism grew.
 Was deeply involved in the faith missions movement, which
provided an alternative to liberal denominational missions.
Liberalism Is the Easy Path:
 “You never find men backsliding into Orthodoxy.You never
find men drifting into high Calvinism. And you never will till
you find water running up hill and iron floating upward in
air. On the contrary, one has to climb to get into this kind of
faith, trampling on pride and self-esteem, and holding
himself rigidly up to that conviction which is hardest to
receive, that human nature is naturally depraved and needing
regeneration, and that God is righteously holy and must
punish sin.”
 A. J. Gordon, Watchword (May 1880), 141.
Transition Years
 Gordon died in 1895. Most conservative leaders passed away
within a few years of his death.
It took time for new leadership to consolidate. During the
transition, liberalism was able to gain a stronger foothold.
The Northern Baptist Convention was organized during the
transition, providing liberals with a new platform.
The Great War begin in 1914, occupying conservative
attention until its end.
Three events during the transition period set the stage for the
controversy that would begin in 1919.
The Grand Rapids Controversy
 1909 – Oliver W. Van Osdel accepted the pastorate of
Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids.
 Fountain Street Baptist Church was pastored by Alfred W.
Wishart, a notoriously outspoken modernist.
 The Grand Rapids Baptist Association could find no way to
disfellowship Wishart or Fountain Street.
 Van Osdel led 14 of the 16 churches to withdraw and to
begin a new association, the Grand River Valley Baptist
The Michigan Convention
 From the beginning, the state convention sided with Fountain
 Convention officials actively worked to keep Van Osdel’s
sympathizers out of Michigan pulpits.
 Convention officials tried to influence minorities to claim the
property of GRVBA churches, leading to court cases.
 At one point, convention officials actually threatened to
attempt to seize the Wealthy Street properties.
 Van Osdel edited the Baptist Temple News, which became the
unofficial voice for the Grand River Valley group. He used it
as a voice against liberalism and conventionism.
 The GRVBA employed its own church planting missionary
and began starting churches across western Michigan.
 Eventually, the association outgrew the Grand River Valley. In
1920 it renamed itself the Michigan Orthodox Baptist
 Also in 1920, tensions came to a head, with the Michigan
Convention expelling the MOBA as a body.
 The MOBA flourished as a separate body.
 Eventually renamed itself the Grand Rapids Association of
Regular Baptist Churches.
 During the 1930s it led in organizing a statewide association
of Regular Baptists.
 Due to its influence, Regular Baptist churches came to
outnumber convention churches in the state of Michigan.
Northern Seminary Background
 Many Baptists in Illinois were reacting against the liberalism
of the University of Chicago.
1906 – the Ministers’ Council of the Chicago Baptist
Association voted to censure George Burman Foster.
The censure provoked a protest from university
sympathizers. Foster himself continued to write and teach.
1908 – the Ministers’ Council voted to remove Foster from
its fellowship.
Illinois Baptists felt the need for a seminary to counteract the
influence of the UCDS.
Northern Seminary Organization
 Second Baptist wanted a seminary, but John R. Straton left
the pastorate.
Henry Mabie of the ABHMS also wanted to see the seminary
Mabie encouraged Second Baptist to call John Marvin Dean,
then encouraged Dean to go. Mid-1912.
Dean, a strong organizer and promoter, was the key figure in
founding Northern, which opened in 1913.
First student was Amy Lee Stockton, a female evangelist from
Trajectory of Northern
 Organized in reaction against liberal theology.
 From the beginning, determined to work within NBC.
 Chicago sympathizers resisted recognition, Northern had to
promise loyalty.
 Doubled down on the promise in view of the New World
Program of 1919-1920. Hoped to gain funding.
 President Charles W. Koller built a strong, conservative
faculty, but remained loyal to the NBC into the 1940s.
 Eventually the school capitulated to various forms of nonconservative theology; evangelical left to ecumenical right.
Notable Northern Faculty
 Charles W. Koller, famous for his method of preaching.
 William Fouts, Old Testament.
 Julius R. Mantey, co-author of a widely used Greek syntax.
 Peder Stiansen, church historian and dean.
 Farris Whitesell, practical theology.
 Carl F. H. Henry (mid-1940s), theology.
Background of The Fundamentals
 Series of twelve little volumes, each a collection of essays.
 Published between 1910 and 1915.
 Financed by Lyman (and Milton?) Stewart of Union Oil.
 Originally planned and edited by A. C. Dixon.
 When Dixon took Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, editorship shifted
to Louis Meyer and then R. A. Torrey.
 Total of 90 essays and around 64 authors.
Editors of The Fundamentals
A. C. Dixon
R. A. Torrey
Content of The Fundamentals
 29 articles dealing with the Bible.
 31 articles defending other key doctrines of the gospel.
 30 articles of testimony, attacking cults, dealing with science
and religion, or promoting missions and evangelism.
The Articles on the Bible
 15 dealt directly with higher criticism or attacked higher
critical understandings of particular passages.
 7 were written in praise of the Bible.
 2 discussed archeological confirmation of biblical accounts.
What Was The Fundamentals?
 Obviously, an attempt to defend the core of biblical
Christianity, beginning with the Bible itself.
The writers were a miscellaneous collection of individuals
employed ad hoc. They never met, did not all work together,
and did not constitute a movement of any sort.
More than anything, the series reflected the concerns of the
original planner, A. C. Dixon.
Definitely NOT the beginning of the fundamentalist
Laid some intellectual groundwork.
What about Fundamentals?
 The notion is as old as the Regula Fidei.
 The Four Chief Symbols were attempts to articulate
 The Reformers and their followers wrote extensively about
fundamental doctrines.
 The notion of fundamental doctrines (and practices) received
renewed emphasis during the middle third of the 19th
century, especially by the Old School Presbyterians.
 There was a widespread recognition of the necessity of both
primary and secondary separation.
 Primary separation is non-extension of Christian fellowship
to those who deny the gospel (by denying a fundamental).
 Secondary separation of limitation of Christian fellowship at
some level toward brethren who reject some nonfundamental aspect of the faith.
 Denominationalism is an example of secondary separation.
So was the division between Old and New School
 Nearly every Christian practices secondary separation
somehow, but not everyone will admit it.
So What Was New, 1870-1920?
 There was a new error, liberalism or modernism.
 This error arose within the mainline denominations.
 There was a question as to how serious the error was and
how long it would persist.
 The original tendency was to minimize the error, believing
that the liberals would outgrow it.
 By the time its gravity became evident, liberalism was already
well entrenched.
 The question now became one of continuing to extend
Christian fellowship to liberals.

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