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Baptists in America: A History 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199977536
ISBN-10: 0199977534
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Editorial Reviews


"In this engaging survey, the authors focus on a number of major themes: struggles for religious liberty, revivalism, race and slavery, liberal-fundamentalist disputes, the civil rights movement, and the religious Right...overall this is a very good book."--CHOICE

"Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins are two of the most respectable church historians in the academy today. Their work is always incisive and illuminating--as in reading this book you will soon discover." --R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"'Baptists,' the authors say, 'are notorious for two things--evangelism and schism.' Baptist successes as evangelists since the colonial era are the basis for their immense influence in American life. Their proneness to schism makes for good stories and is a reason why we need a clear and engaging account such as this. Baptists in America is both readable and fascinating." --George M. Marsden, author of Jonathan Edwards: A Life

"In clear and compelling prose, filled with enlightening anecdotes, this book tells the amazing story of how a persecuted minority of Christians, who rejected infant baptism and state control of the church, grew into the largest denomination in the United States with culture-shaping consequences. An important contribution to American Religious History, this book should be widely read by anyone interested in the history and present state of religion in U.S. culture and politics." --Albert J. Raboteau, Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion, Princeton University

"Some books on Baptists in America sprinkle the reader with superficial simplicity, focusing on only one tribe or one aspect of the Baptist experience. Others drown the reader in historical narrative, but with no clear connection as to why non-Baptists ought to care. This book is different. This history offers a full immersion in the Baptist story, in every stream and fork of the Baptist river. This volume connects the Baptist experience to larger trends in American culture, politics, and theology in a way that informs both insiders and outsiders. This book is, without doubt, the definitive work on Baptists in America for this generation." --Russell D. Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

"A thoroughgoing study of Baptists, radicalized by persecution and honed by internal schism. ... The authors usefully trace the Baptists' shift from outsiders to consummate insiders, all the way to the White House. An instructive work that allows for a fuller understanding of an important religious element in America." --Kirkus Reviews

"This fascinating piece of cultural history dynamically examines religious tensions between church, state, and evolving U.S. cultural norms." --Library Journal

"Baptists have been one of the most influential groups of any kind in American history... This book covers that remarkable past with a nice mix of readability and reliability... Highly recommended..." --Booklist

"...Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins, both history professors at Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Texas, wrestle capably with the oddly difficult question of what defines Baptists." --The Economist

"Kidd and Hankins know their stuff... the two have crafted an engaging read." --Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

"There are few historians I have more respect for than Tommy Kidd and Barry Hankins... In their capable hands, Baptist history will be both lively and engaging." --The Gospel Coalition

"With such awareness of the personal and political dimensions of writing history, especially to be read by other Baptists, they offer an insightful short history of the Baptist movement."-- Rev. Jerrod Hugenot, Journal of the Academy of Parish Clergy

About the Author

Thomas S. Kidd is Professor of History at Baylor University and Senior Fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. He co-directs Baylor's Program in Historical Studies of Religion. He is the author of several books, including George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father and God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution.

Barry Hankins is Professor of History, graduate program director in the history department, and Resident Scholar at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He is the author of Uneasy in Babylon: Southern Baptist Conservatives and American Culture and, most recently, Jesus and Gin: Evangelicalism, the Roaring Twenties and Today's Culture Wars.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199977534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199977536
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.2 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From seed form in the first colonies, to peak-Baptist in the late 1980s, for better or for worse, the Baptist influence in America cannot be denied. Surprisingly, following the Baptist thread of American history provides an amazingly instructive perspective for understanding the development of America, from its initial stage consisting of multiple officially Christian British colonies to its present stage of consolidated power and avowed religious neutrality. From Roger Williams’ encounter with the fledgling Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1600s, to Russell Moore in 2015, "Baptists in America" engagingly covers it all. Especially refreshing and enlightening is the bold commentary generously interjected by the authors, which keeps the history relevant and alive from beginning to end. I thoroughly tested the highlighting limits of my Kindle app! Baptists in America is a highly rewarding read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am particularly interested in the history of Christianity in America. I've written quite a bit and lectured extensively on this topic over the past few years. So, I was very excited to see that one of my favorite historians, Thomas Kidd, had a new work titled Baptists in America. I was less familiar with Barry Hankins (the book's co-author), but he and Kidd made an excellent team. I intend to read more from Hankins in the coming months.

I love that Kidd and Hankins take great care to attach important moments in baptist history to historically noteworthy instances in American history. This is very helpful in aiding the reader to situate baptist history in its larger, contextual, setting. I commend the authors for being (in my opinion) very fair in the appraisal of controversial moments in baptist history. I would note that their handling of the conservative resurgence was well-written and gracious.

One feature of the book that is especially timely is the discussion of the baptist emphasis on religious liberty. I think most readers will find this segment of the book quite useful. As debates over the role of religion continue in our country, it is a nice reminder that baptists have always stood for religious liberty.

Baptists in America is an excellent text. I would strongly encourage all baptists, history buffs, church historians, and general readers alike to add this book to your summer reading list. Great work by Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Baptists are not the most homogenous group. This could make writing readable histories about them a significant challenge. In this volume, Kidd and Hankins provide a quality, readable, and engaging story. If you have read David Bebbington’s Baptists through the Centuries: a History of a Global People, you will find this volume fits with it like a puzzle, providing the American ‘zoom in’ that was not possible in Bebbington’s broader work. If you are looking for a book to bolster your personal Baptist polemics, this is not that book. It is even and thorough, a quality telling of the Baptist story. If you are a Baptist in America (whatever flavor), you will find your own history in the pages of this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent! Learned so much about my denomination. Great information and a lot of detail. Despite all the ups and downs, still glad to be a Baptist in America! Great collaboration by both of our Baylor Professors.
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Format: Hardcover
From outcasts and outsiders, to power brokers and insiders, Baptists in America have run the gamut. Baptist historians Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins have described that gamut in Baptists in America: A History. From the pre-colonial era right up to the 21st century, Kidd and Hankins examine the character, theology, and role of Baptists in American history.

The first half of the history of Baptists in America made me proud to call myself a Baptist. We all know that many of the early colonists came to America for religious freedom. What is often forgotten is that some of them only wanted freedom for their own kind; Baptists were excluded from enjoying that freedom. Some New England Baptists wondered "whether their liberties were safer under the king of England than under colonial authorities." Baptists were imprisoned, beaten, and forbidden from meeting. They were compelled to pay taxes to support state churches. Yet as the colonies won their independence from England, the Baptists' insistence on religious liberty won the day.

Other parts of the history of Baptists in America gave me mixed feelings about being a Southern Baptist. In the growing nation, slavery became a more and more contested issue. Southern Baptists eventually split off from their northern brethren. They unconscionably defended slavery using scripture. They believed that slavery was sometimes an occasion for sin, but that the institution itself was OK. In spite of this terrible oversight (not exclusive to Baptists, of course), the Southern Baptists retained a more Orthodox theological position, in contrast to their counterparts up north, who succumbed to the liberal influences of the Social Gospel and higher criticism.
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Format: Hardcover
Baptists in America is the biography of the Baptist denomination. The primary focus is Baptist history in America, but the authors back up to define baptism and the beginnings of the denomination in Europe. The beginnings of baptism (its history and change from submersion to infant baptism is explored.) The Reformation in Europe, which led to branches of Protestant denominations is studied. The early years of Baptists in America did not have a good reputation and this is examined.
The following chapters show the organization of the book.
"Chapter 1: Colonial Outlaws
Chapter 2: The Great Awakening
Chapter 3: Baptists and the American Revolution
Chapter 4: Baptists and Disestablishment
Chapter 5: Baptists and the Great Revival
Chapter 6: Baptists and Slavery
Chapter 7: Slavery, Schism, and War
Chapter 8: Black Baptists in Babylon
Chapter 9: White Baptists and the American Mainstream
Chapter 10: Baptist Schism in the Early Twentieth Century
Chapter 11: Insiders and Outsiders at Mid-20th Century
Chapter 12: Baptists and the Civil Rights Movement
Chapter 13: Schism in Zion: The Southern Baptist Controversy
Chapter 14: Conclusion"

My Thoughts:
This is the first book I've read on the history of Baptists. I've read articles in magazines sharing brief sections of Baptist history. Baptists in America is the first book I've seen that starts at the beginning of the Baptist denomination and follows its course in history through to the present.
My first reason in giving Baptists in America 5 stars for excellent, is the authors have shared both the negative and positive aspects of Baptist history.
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