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Comment: Shelf and edge wear, pages are age-tanned, bumping at bottom of spine. No creases on spine. Pages are clean, clear and tight. Cover is shiny and bright.
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Baptist Battles: Social Change and Religious Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention Paperback – July 1, 1990

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This book is a peculiar mixture of sociological curiosity and personal involvement. It is a scientific analysis of a denomination in conflict, and it is indirectly the story of the author's own religious odyssey. The story told here of consensus moving toward division is also the story of his own journey from unquestioning acceptance to alienation.

About the Author

Nancy Tatom Ammerman is a professor of the sociology of religion at the Hartford Seminary. She is author of several books, including Baptist Battles and Bible Believers (both Rutgers University Press). The research for this book was supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (July 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813515572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813515571
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #960,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Nancy Tatom Ammerman, a major sociologist of religion, wife of a Baptist minister, and herself a Baptist who was once part of the SBC but is no longer, conducted this fine sociological study of the SBC. It is very rare that sociologists or historians get to see a church schism while it is taking place, but Ammerman and her research assistants were able to do just that in the mid-'80s. Ammerman gives us insider insights and uses her outsider researchers and sociological tools (including a scientific survey) to achieve balanced objectivity. Her last chapter, as she admits, is somewhat less objective because she is emotionally invested in the survival of what was then called the Southern Baptist Alliance. Now called the Alliance of Baptists, it is one of several small splinters from the ever-more-fundamentalist Southern Baptist behemoth. Anyone wanting to understand how Southern Baptists, who in 1976 were typified by someone like Jimmy Carter, could become the far-right religious/political powerhouse of today should read this book.
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Ammerman's overview of the "battles" that erupted in the Southern Baptist Convention is a sociological study with a secondary mix of history and theology.
She opens with the experience of being at the pivotal convention meeting of June 1985 when Charles Stanley was elected president. From there she gives a brief Baptist history, outlining the theology and organizational philosophy that began the Baptist movement in North America. Then she covers the ways in which different groups began to develop within the same theological and organizational worldview. Put simply, the "Fundamentalists" stressed the historical Baptist emphasis on biblical authority and faithfulness to the Bible as the "inerrant" word of God, while "moderates" emphasized the Baptist traditions of the priesthood of all believers and freedom of conscience. From there, the second half of the book details how each wing within the Southern Baptist Convention began to strategically fight for position in the denominational structures. The "fundamentalist" wing ending up developing a more effective strategy for gaining the right positions of authority to enforce their values while the "moderates" who initially held more of the key positions ended up losing many of them. The result was a political war that polarized the denomination and eventually led to factions and splits.
Ammerman takes a sociological approach to the historical events. She reports on the history but spends a good deal of time on detailed surveys conducted within the denomination at the time and points out where the disagreements existed in perception and reality.
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This is an excellent history of the Southern Baptist Church. I could not put the book down. If you know nothing of the background of the SBC this is an excellent resource.
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Format: Paperback
This book is valuable in that it goes far beyond the conflict within the Baptist Church itself. It goes to the struggle over the very soul of Christianity. As emphasized throughout this book, nothing causes the decline of Christian churches faster than the undermining of the Word of God by theological liberalism. Witness the virtual disappearance of significant Christian practice and influence in western Europe. In this book, Criswell is perceptably cited (p. 81) in pointing out that the onset of theological liberalism, as exemplified by the so-called higher critical approach to the Bible, quickly led to a precipitous decline in church attendance, conversions, prayer meetings, missionary activity, etc. Worse yet, theological liberalism, or modernism, is often disguised with euphemisms such as "theological moderates". But Criswell (p. 84) is quoted as saying, "A skunk by any other name still stinks". Very well put!
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