The Making of a Battle Royal

The Rise of Liberalism in Northern Baptist Life, 1870-1920

By Jeffrey Paul Straub

Foreword by Tom J. Nettles

The Making of a Battle Royal

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  • ISBN: 9781532616662
  • Pages: 414
  • Publication Date: 4/17/2018
  • Retail Price: $48.00
Web Price: $38.40
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  • ISBN: 9781532616662
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  • Publication Date: 4/17/2018
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The Making of a Battle Royal

The Rise of Liberalism in Northern Baptist Life, 1870-1920

By Jeffrey Paul Straub

Foreword by Tom J. Nettles

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781532616662
  • Pages: 414
  • Publication Date: 4/17/2018
  • Retail Price: $48.00
Web Price: $38.40
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM
ebook-logo

eBOOK

  • ISBN: 9781532616662
  • Format: epub
  • Publication Date: 4/17/2018
  • Retail Price: $48.00
Web Price: $38.40
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM
Web Price: $38.40
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM
 

*All eBooks are non-returnable

** Click here to review our ePub FAQ and policies.

About-

American Baptists emerged from the Civil War as a divided group. Slavery, landmarkism, and other issues sundered Baptists into regional clusters who held more or less to the same larger doctrinal sentiments. As the century progressed, influences from Europe further altered the landscape. A new way to view the Bible—more human, less divine—began to shape Baptist thought. Moreover, Darwinian evolutionism altered the way religion was studied. Religion, like humanity itself, was progressing. Conservative Baptists—proto fundamentalists—objected to these alterations. Baptist bodies had a new enemy—theological liberalism. The schools were at the center of the story in the earliest days as professors, many of whom studied abroad, returned to the United States with progressive ideas that were passed on to their students. Soon these ideas were being presented at denominational gatherings or published in denomination papers and books. Baptists agitated over the new views, with some professors losing their jobs when they strayed too far from historic Baptists commitments. By 1920, the Northern Baptists, in particular, broke out into an all-out war over theology that came to be called “The Fundamentalist-Modernist” controversy. This is the fifty-year history behind that controversy.

Endorsements & Reviews-

“In the period between the Civil War and World War I, Northern Baptist theology drifted increasingly to the left. This transition provoked the fundamentalist-modernist controversies among Northern Baptists in the 1920s and 1930s and ultimately inspired the rise of Baptist fundamentalism. In this helpful study, Jeff Straub examines the trends, personalities, and rivalries that led to the ascendancy of theological liberalism in the Baptist North.”

—Nathan A. Finn, School of Theology and Missions, Union University



“The historiography of religious liberalism and that of American fundamentalism have until now been kept in separate compartments. Straub brings the two together, explaining how liberals gained control of a previously-orthodox Baptist denomination. This story sets the stage for understanding how and why fundamentalism burst onto the scene. Those who wish to understand fundamentalism must begin by understanding liberalism. Straub’s book provides a significant contribution to this understanding.”

—Kevin T. Bauder, Central Baptist Seminary of Minneapolis



“In The Making of a Battle Royal, Jeff Straub addresses a serious gap in the study of North American Baptist history. Until now, with a few notable exceptions, historians have tended to focus on the rise of fundamentalism while our understanding of the emerging thought and theology of Northern Baptist liberal/progressive academics has remained fragmented and in relative obscurity. With deftness, depth, and diligence, Straub takes his reader on a journey through the events and exchanges that established a liberal Baptist identity and facilitated the emergence of liberal Baptist hegemony. We owe Professor Straub our gratitude for bringing this history to light.”

—Paul R. Wilson, President, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society



“Nineteenth-century liberal theology claimed to be about life and freedom. In reality, it brought spiritual death and bondage to the then-current mentalité. The story of this devastation among Baptists in the northern United States, one that especially involved the seminaries, is now definitively told by Professor Straub with both a depth of scholarship and verve that are truly admirable. A profoundly insightful work and must reading for all concerned with handing on our most precious faith.” 

—Michael A. G. Haykin, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary



“This is an excellent addition to the literature on American Baptist history. Well researched and well written, it offers a fine-grained treatment of the rise of liberalism in the country's Baptist seminaries, especially. It is written by a Baptist in defense of conservative Baptists for a series aimed primarily at other conservative Baptists, but it tells a powerful story to which many will relate. Along the way, it sheds light on the ways in which an emphasis on freedom by modern Baptists, untethered from the confessional traditions that gave them birth, turned a people known for the strictness of their Christian faith and practice into typically modern heralds of ‘the right of private judgment’ and justifiers of libertarian freedom in civic life (at least on occasion, for people and groups they favor)—an irony that some take joy in pointing out but that is handled much more wisely as Straub does here: as a cautionary tale for thoughtful Christians in the present.”

—Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School



“Like other denominations at the turn of the century, battles over theological shifts among pastors and seminaries led to intense controversy and conflict among Northern Baptists. Straub’s adroit use of primary sources and insightful analysis provides a compelling examination of the growth of liberalism and the response of fundamentalists among Northern Baptists. The ultimate defeat of the conservatives, he argues, was primarily due to their failure to present a united front in the ‘battle royal.’”

—Gordon L. Heath, Director, Canadian Baptist Archives



“Jeffrey Straub’s The Making of a Battle Royal describes the difficulty in balancing the elements of cooperative efforts and convictional standards in Northern Baptist life over a fifty-year period. For readers mildly acquainted with this era it is a strange tale indeed, with prominent Baptists denying biblical truths in favor of scientific and societal winds of change. Straub is eminently fair in his contextualization of how liberal ideas appealed to a segment of Baptist theologians. and he is perfectly clear in his assessment of liberal theology as a new departure from Baptist principles. Though he contends that conservatives lost nearly every battle during this period, Straub’s story indicates that much more was lost by the winners of their day.”

—Anthony Chute, California Baptist University



“‘How does a major denomination “lose its faith?”’ Jeffrey Straub details the fascinating history of a major American denomination that once cherished the Bible, conversion, and missions, and how it lost its way. The Making of a Battle Royal has all the ingredients of good church history: biographies of major leaders, theological controversy, and the struggle for control of the denomination's seminaries. Straub's history of the past is prophetic for our future: Will we stand firm on Scripture or slowly lose our way?”

—Robert Caldwell, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary



The Making of a Battle Royal is a valuable retelling of an old and important story: the rise of the liberal views of the Bible and theology in the Northern Baptist Convention. Jeffrey Straub provides well-documented and informative accounts of the thoughts of the leading theologians in the denomination who reshaped its dominant theology in the era leading up to the fundamentalist versus modernist controversies.”

—George Marsden, University of Notre Dame



“Jeff Straub’s work helps solve a mystery. What is the intellectual dynamic by which Christian orthodoxy surrenders the battle to liberalism and sets the subsequent agenda for an assault on the apparent victors? Straub engages the interpretive grid provided by the most informed secondary sources, an expansive knowledge, and an untiring investigation of the primary sources. The story he gives has a liveliness seldom achieved in such theologically thick narratives.”

—Tom J. Nettles, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Contributors-

Jeffrey Paul Straub
Tom J. Nettles

Bio(s)-

Jeff Straub is the Professor of Historical Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minneapolis. When he is not teaching in Minnesota, he is often teaching overseas in Africa, Asia, or Europe.

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