Baptist pacifists

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Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:36 pm

Hopefully BDW can offer some expertise here as well as others. How many Baptist pacifists can people name from the time of John Smyth to before WW2? I realize pacifist can mean lots of things, so based on the loosest definition you can imagine give me some names. If that doesn't work I'll consult Yoder and be more specific.

I've heard there were several in the earliest general baptist congregations due to the influence of the Dutch Mennonites while they were in Amsterdam, but I'm not sure I've seen many names. I think I once saw an article where the author posited Elias Tookey may have been a pacifist. I think more Baptists became convinced of pacifism because of interactions with the Quakers around the time of the English Civil War. I would consider Henry Adis, William Cox and Richard Pilgrim to be a kind of pacifist. That's as far as my knowledge of the subject goes.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:48 am

Paul Dekar in "For the Healing of the Nations: Baptist Peacemakers" notes that pacifism was a persistent position among Baptists, particularly General and Free Will Baptists up until the War of 1812.

Dekar mentions Catherine Scott, Anne Hutchison's sister, as a Baptist pacifist.

British Baptists participated in the Peace crusades in the early 19th century, organizing peace societies. John Clifford and James Rushbrooke were active in this movement. Rushbrooke did so through his involvement in the BWA and as editor of "The Peacemaker"

Perhaps the most notable Baptist peacemaker in the early 20th century was Clyde Macintosh, a Northern Baptist minister and Yale Divinity prof. Macintosh is part of my article in American Baptist Quarterly on Charles Evans Hughes. Here's a brief summary:

Douglas Clyde Macintosh was a Northern Baptist minister and a theology professor at Yale Divinity School who served as a chaplain with the Canadian Army during World War I. Macintosh’s application for naturalization was denied due to the fact that he refused to state in advance that he would not fight in any war in which the United States was involved. Macintosh explained that he would only participate in a morally justified war. The Supreme Court took up the case in United States v. Macintosh (1930). In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court denied Macintosh’s application for naturalization and held that naturalization was a privilege, to be given, qualified or withheld by Congress.


One could argue that Charles Spurgeon was a functional pacifist. Like Macintosh, he believed that war could be morally justified. However, Spurgeon was unable to support any war during his lifetime and there were MANY!

Spurgeon came close to supporting the Union in the American Civil War. However, he did not trust the motivations of the Union leaders. Three months after Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina to start the Civil War, Spurgeon asserted:
If I could believe that there were in America a sincere desire on the part of the Northerners to set free every slave, I would say, “God speed their swords and bless their arms.” If I could believe that the chain would be broken, and that it was their intent to do it,-- if I did not fear that they will yet compromise and make terms with the bloodhound’s master, and let him still hold his blood-stained property in the souls and bodies of men, I would say that that might be, if war ever could be, a consecrated war.


I think Timothy George has published an article or two about early Baptist pacifism.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Haruo » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:08 am

My dad's college roommate, Bob Walker, was imprisoned for his pacifism, but that was during World War II. Likewise, Alice Franklin Bryant's pacifism was of that era. Both may have conceivably come to that position prior to the outbreak of hostilities (and very likely prior to Pearl Harbor), however. These are just Seattle-area Baptist pacifists of some prominence.

I think your Macintosh quote needs a little tweaking, though; it suffers from Reverse Adulterer's Bible Syndrome:
BDW wrote:Douglas Clyde Macintosh was a Northern Baptist minister and a theology professor at Yale Divinity School who served as a chaplain with the Canadian Army during World War I. Macintosh’s application for naturalization was denied due to the fact that he refused to state in advance that he would not fight in any war in which the United States was involved. Macintosh explained that he would only participate in a morally justified war. The Supreme Court took up the case in United States v. Macintosh (1930). In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court denied Macintosh’s application for naturalization and held that naturalization was a privilege, to be given, qualified or withheld by Congress.

I'm pretty sure what he actually refused to do was the opposite of what you say he refused to do. The United States has never deprecated a willingness to fight for us on the part of prospective citizens.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:19 pm

Thanks for the info. Aaron would you be able to track down info on the Timothy George articles? I can't seem to find a comprehensive enough CV for him to see anything that looks like what you're describing and ATLA didn't turn up anything.
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:38 pm

That sentence may be a bit unclear. My understanding is that the U.S. would grant citizenship to applicants (at least some) who declared up front that they were pacifist (for example, Quakers). Macintosh was not a pacifist and was unwilling to state that he would not fight in ANY war. Instead, Macintosh was willing to fight in some wars - wars that he as an individual held to be morally justifiable, beneficial to humanity, etc.

Macintosh was trying to expand and formalize the "generally accepted" definition of who is eligible to be exempted from such requirements to promise to bear arms in defense of country.

I should check Ron Flowers book on conscientious objection - but don't have it handy.

Blake,

The article I was thinking of is:

"Between Pacifism and Coercion: The English Baptist Doctrine of Religious Toleration," Mennonite Quarterly Review 58 (1984): 30-49
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Haruo » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:27 am

Here's a link to information on Alice Franklin Bryant, Bob Walker, and others from Seattle First Baptist Church:
AliceFranklinBryant.jpg
Alice Franklin Bryant
AliceFranklinBryant.jpg (45.33 KiB) Viewed 4021 times
Tributes to the Peacemakers. See also "An Historic Peace Church".

Also, be sure to look at the BPFNA materials in this connection, and maybe make contacts with historically minded folks there, maybe post a query or two on their listserv...
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:38 pm

When I was looking for the George article on ATLA I stumbled across a reference to another article that intrigued me. If you can, I highly recommend running (literally run!) to a theological library and reading "Baptist Pacifism: A Heritage of Nonviolence" by Reid S. Trulson in American Baptist Quarterly 10, no. 3 (1991): 199-217. This is the kind of article I've been searching for. Our peace witness is not new and did not die out in the 17th century like I had suspected. It's always been there. Why aren't these stories told more often? Why don't our history books make reference to actual options baptists have taken throughout their history of soul liberty? Aaron, want to help me write A People's History of the Baptist Tradition? :wink:
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Ed Pettibone » Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:36 pm

Ed: it has been a month since Blake wrote the post just above where he said "Why don't our history books make reference to actual options baptists have taken throughout their history of soul liberty? Aaron, want to help me write A People's History of the Baptist Tradition?

I am a bit surprised that no one here has addressed this. My reaction is sort of What history books are you reading Blake ? For starters I would suggest William Bracney's Baptist Life and thought with special attention to Varieties of Baptist Expression in Colonial America pgs 97 -107 in the Revised edition, 1998, Judson Press, Vally Forge, Pa.

And in 1907 The American Baptist Publication society in Philadelphia offered Henry C. Vedder's A Short History of the Baptist
In it is a chapter that he titled Baptist In the united states - Irregular Baptist Bodies that is chapter xxiv. in it he writes
The earliest of the Irregular Baptist Bodies - and the term "irregular" is used simply as a distinguishing epithet, with no idea of disparagement - are various organizations that differ somewhat among themselves, but agree in holding Arminian theology.
He then gives thumbnail historical sketches of some of these groups. He had already addressed variances among "Regular Baptist" who where primarily Calvinist.

In my opinion it is impossible to read a wide selection of original material of "Baptist Churches" covering any one hundred year period, from England and what is now America with her political subdivisions, and maintain any creditable argument that Baptist are or have been monolithic. It may be true that some called "historians" have concentrated on their preferred type of Baptist and ignored the reality of the ever present diversity among us.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:56 pm

Ed, this thread isn't about Baptist theological diversity. The thread is about diversity in Baptist views on war and peace. I'm complaining about both a real lack in diversity on these issues among Baptists today as well as wondering why such details are not addressed in Baptist history books. The Baptist tradition and Baptist denominations are full of diversity on a lot of issues, but rarely is there deviance from a commitment to just war theory and participation in the military. For a group of people committed to the freedom of following their consciences, mine is troubled that more people in our tradition have not been troubled by participation in war as it relates to Scripture. Isn't it troubling that more Baptists have gotten up in arms about modes of baptism than about being up in arms?
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:06 pm

Blake,

I just don't think there are a very large percentage of Baptists who are pacifists. So it doesn't get much press.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Haruo » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:30 pm

Blake wrote:Isn't it troubling that more Baptists have gotten up in arms about modes of baptism than about being up in arms?

It troubles me, it troubles you, but it doesn't trouble those who don't find physical warfare as troubling as being soft on the enemy. "Who says the Communists/Al Qaeda/whatever isn't who Paul meant when he said "principalities and powers"?" I don't think most Baptists have even considered the issue of whether they can in good conscience participate in the military and its warfare.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:18 pm

Haruo, I share those sentiments exactly. We have alternative views on war and peace expressed in our history and by Baptists abroad and some in our midst. The history books should reflect it, not ignore it.
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:23 pm

Blake wrote:Haruo, I share those sentiments exactly. We have alternative views on war and peace expressed in our history and by Baptists abroad and some in our midst. The history books should reflect it, not ignore it.


I agree Blake. But history is, unfortunately, written primarily by those in the majority opinion. That is why you need to be suspect of only getting one perspective of any history and careful to check who the writer is of a particular history to figure out their bias. Examples now majoritarian views of SBC history can easily be found in the current SBC where a "takeover" becomes a "resurgence" in the history books. Winners write the history.

Maybe you should write a historical account of Baptist pacifism!
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Ed Pettibone » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:43 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:
Blake wrote:Haruo, I share those sentiments exactly. We have alternative views on war and peace expressed in our history and by Baptists abroad and some in our midst. The history books should reflect it, not ignore it.


I agree Blake. But history is, unfortunately, written primarily by those in the majority opinion. That is why you need to be suspect of only getting one perspective of any history and careful to check who the writer is of a particular history to figure out their bias. Examples now majoritarian views of SBC history can easily be found in the current SBC where a "takeover" becomes a "resurgence" in the history books. Winners write the history.

Maybe you should write a historical account of Baptist pacifism!


Ed; And for starters you may want to take a look at the article on Peacemaking Among Baptist by Ken Sehested in The Dictionary of Baptist in America Edited by Bill Leonard, InterVarsity Press Downers Grove, Illinois, 1994. Sehested includes a bibliography of writings by eight of his 1980's and 90s contemporaries. And this article on Baptist Ethicist Henlee H Barnette http://levellers.wordpress.com/2009/02/ ... -barnette/ may inspire you to find his Introducing Christian Ethics published in 1961 by Baptist Press, Nashville, Tn.

You may also want to check out http://levellers.wordpress.com/2009/01/ ... -b-maston/
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:52 pm

Timothy Bonney wrote:Maybe you should write a historical account of Baptist pacifism!

I've been strongly considering making it my Masters thesis.

Ed, thanks for the reading recommendations. They look interesting and I'll look into it further.
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby ET » Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:42 pm

Blake wrote:For a group of people committed to the freedom of following their consciences, mine is troubled that more people in our tradition have not been troubled by participation in war as it relates to Scripture.

Possibly because many may have reached a different conclusion than the one at which you have apparently arrived. They may have reached the conclusion that Scripture does not cause them to be troubled by participation in the military. Neither Paul nor Jesus rebuked those in military service during their days nor are there any specific Scriptures that directly or specifically imply military service to be wrong. If Paul had a blanket objection to the military or warfare, then I think he chose some bad metaphors in talking about putting on the "armor of God" and other implements of war and "fighting the good fight". Is there any fight that can be considered good to a pacifist?

I find the notion that a Christian/Baptist should be predisposed to pacifism to be a weak Scriptural argument. Attempting to live at peace with all men is Scriptural and one thing, but when one starts taking the principles that are used to support the pacifist position against war and "drilling down" to the levels of society lower than international conflicts, then the argument is full of problems.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:13 pm

ET, in the interest of keeping this about Baptist history and not delving into another argument about scripture and pacifism, I would say that I simply doubt many people (esp. Western Christians) wrestle with the scripture in this way at all. I don't intend to imply that people that really wrestle with scripture will come to believe like I do, but I think historians may be more inclined to document something that people did wrestle with. In this case, it does not appear that many Baptists have wrestled with the peace passages in scripture or we would have more records of people confessing a distinct position.
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Ed Pettibone » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:32 pm

Blake wrote:
Timothy Bonney wrote:Maybe you should write a historical account of Baptist pacifism!

I've been strongly considering making it my Masters thesis.

Ed, thanks for the reading recommendations. They look interesting and I'll look into it further.



Ed: You are welcome Blake, here is another form a former SBTS professor that I never had for a class but often sat near, during worship services in the early 1990's, at Deer Park BC in Louisville; http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... ntent;col1 This one speaks even more directly and more voluminously to your question. Do add E. Glen Hinson to your reading list he will provide you with a wealth of other sources.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby ET » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:38 pm

Blake wrote:ET, in the interest of keeping this about Baptist history and not delving into another argument about scripture and pacifism, I would say that I simply doubt many people (esp. Western Christians) wrestle with the scripture in this way at all. I don't intend to imply that people that really wrestle with scripture will come to believe like I do, but I think historians may be more inclined to document something that people did wrestle with. In this case, it does not appear that many Baptists have wrestled with the peace passages in scripture or we would have more records of people confessing a distinct position.

You may be right. I would think that the high-point of pacifism would be in the lead-up to WWII and that the 30s would be the most likely source of any discussions on the subject. From my faint recall of the subject relating to American history, at least that's where I'd look. Might not be the best for Baptist history, however.

I think pacifism requires dealing with a philosophy stemming out of Scripture, and very few Christians take time to think these days about philosophical matters that are not so cut-and-dried as something like pacifism.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby ET » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:43 pm

Ed Pettibone wrote:Ed: You are welcome Blake, here is another form a former SBTS professor that I never had for a class but often sat near, during worship services in the early 1990's, at Deer Park BC in Louisville; http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... ntent;col1 This one speaks even more directly and more voluminously to your question. Do add E. Glen Hinson to your reading list he will provide you with a wealth of other sources.

Thanks for the link, EP....I scanned the first couple of pages and bookmarked for future reading. :thumb:
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:12 pm

Thanks Ed Pettibone!
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:10 am

Hinson's article is very interesting but it seems to me it contains a glaring oversight. His characterization of the normative Baptist opinion is dependent on the American and Southern Baptist Conventions. This does not take into account the millions of African-American Baptists in the country. He needed to include the four National Baptist Conventions alongside the ABC and SBC in order to be as representative as he intended. This brings me to my question, if one were to go back and figure out how to include African-American Baptist opinions on war and peace as represented through the National Baptist Conventions, where are their archives?
"But for our parts, to take a carnal weapon in our hands, or use the least violence, either to support or pull down the worst, or to set up or maintain the best of men, we look not upon it to be our duty in the least..."
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Haruo » Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:18 pm

Have you asked them? And don't stop with the African-Americans. There are African Baptists, Indian Baptists, Burmese Baptists... And here in the US, there are a lot of other Euro-Baptists besides the ABC and SBC ones. ABCUSA is maybe almost 40% African American in its present makeup, too. My guess is that a lot of pertinent material is at Mercer.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby bowtie baptist » Tue Nov 23, 2010 9:32 am

I found that Northern Primitive Baptists had a possible trajectory for pacifism during the Civil War. You might look at Gilbert Beebe who was the editor of "The Signs of the Times," a Primitive Baptists periodical. I read several editorials in which he indicated that Northern Primitives refused to take up arms against their Southern brethren. His rationale was that Jesus was non-violent and that Christians therefore were to be the same. I don't know if Samuel Trott, another northern PB leader, had the same views, but there are collections of his editorials available from Primitive Baptist booksellers.
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Re: Baptist pacifists

Postby Blake » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:49 pm

Thanks Michael for the lead. I'll try and keep that in mind next time I do research on this topic.

Haruo, I took your advice and e-mailed a couple of the General secretaries from their conventions right away and used the contact us part of one of the websites. Still waiting for a reply. Any other suggestions? Why do you think Mercer would have much National Baptist stuff?
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