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Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War Paperback – June 1, 2007
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"This book is an excellent example of just how fragile religion and religiosity are and how harmony can turn to animosity over trivia."
"These personal narratives of distinguished Baptists illustrate the adverse consequences of exclusive fundamentalism, and the need for unity among traditional Baptists."
“This book is an excellent example of just how fragile religion and religiosity are and how harmony can turn to animosity over trivia.”
-Will D. Campbell
It has been one of the major news stories in religion and culture of the past twenty-five years. From 1979 to 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was rocked by assaults on its leadership by fundamentalists, who used questionable
tactics to gain top positions and then used their power to purge Baptist seminary presidents and professors, church pastors, lay leaders, and women from positions of responsibility. America's largest Christian, non-Catholic denomination is firmly locked in a “holy war” to secure its churches and membership for a never-ending struggle against a liberal culture.
Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War is a compilation of first-person narratives by conservative and moderate ministers and lay leaders who were stripped of their positions and essentially became pariahs in the churches to which they had devoted their lives.
While other books have described the takeover in historical, political, and theological terms, Exiled is different. Individual people tell their personal stories, revealing the struggle and heartache that resulted from being vilified, dispossessed, and exiled. Kell includes a variety of perspectives-from lay preachers and church members to prominent former SBC leaders such as James Dunn and Carolyn Crumpler.
The emotion captured on the pages-sadness, shock, disbelief, resignation,
and anger-will make Exiled moving even to readers who know little about the Southern Baptist movement. Exiled will also be of particular interest to historians, sociologists, philosophers of religion, and rhetorical historians.
Carl L. Kell is professor of communication at Western Kentucky University. He is the author, with Raymond Camp, of In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention and, with Paul R. Corts, of Fundamentals of Effective Group Communication, and of Let's Talk Business.
Top customer reviews
The endorsement by Will Campbell on the back of the book states " This book is an excellent example of just how fragile religion and religosity are and how harmony can turn to arminosity over trivia."
With those two ideas in mind, the guy in the suit looking really unhappy and "animosity over trivia", I began to read Exiled.
I expected in the introduction to read some examples of "animosity over trivia." Coming from a fundamental background I expected to read Dr. Mohler demands no more pants on women or Adrian Rodgers wants to get rid of horned rim glasses once and for all. These are trivial matters to have animosity over.
However, Samuel Hill provides what the great fight in the convention was over:
"Tolerance, even respect, for differing theological positions is an attitude that has been declared intolerable by the conservative sector. That company has shown unyielding determination to establish the correct belief as the test of faith and the supreme characteristic of true biblical understanding. Correct belief is the number one-one requirement. Stated baldly, they have insisted on unexeptionable subscription to certain basic doctrines..." (p.3)
In what ways was this intolerance directed towards?
Hill continues, "The shift from assurance that each reader's "soul competency" acknowledging the capacity and responsibility of individual Christian's to interpret scripture, to the insistence that scripture's meaning is thus-and-such as asserted by a virtual Baptist creed... The category of truth has overwhelmed the category of persons." (p. 8)
Hill's argument is that the truths of scripture are not absolute. They are adaptible to every generation. A pious Christian may come up with a different point of view on a verse of scripture then another theologian but they both can be right.
Also Hill comments that "(holidng to an innerant view of scripture) dominated those 'sweet moments' when they hold the sacred text in their hands and oncentrate on feeling the reality of God in their hearts." (p.7) Hill holds to the belief that scriptures are best understood through experiences rather than through intellectual reasonging. A fervent but uneducated mind is just as prepared to interpret the scriptures as a student of theology because what God really cares about is sincerity.
Women in the church.
Another hot issue in Exiled is women in leadership. Numerous women wrote articles in this book how they felt they were cast out of leadership positions in the SBC after the take over. Women of renoun who believed they were called into the pastorate were told by the convention leaders that they were no longer allowed to preach.
Respect for the leaders of the SBC grows when it is realized just how much was set in place with the former view. According to the text a missions board based on this teaching was terminated. Also SB seminary professors positions were terminated. This was a serious decision to make. Going back to interpretation A resulted in great pain and transition for the convention, but the leaders were acting on what they believed to be true and this is a sign of integrity.
The topics of Biblical innerancy and women's leadership in the church were the most discussed issues in the book Exiled. If a reader is in agreement with the modern views on these issues he will be most sympathetic to the tears of the exiled. If you disagree with the author on these two points then you will find the entire tone of the book: whiny.
Over and over again throughout the articles the resounding theme is: "we wish we would have done more to stop this dreadful 'fundamentalist' takeover" followed by the mournful heartbroken chorus: 'once a Southern Baptist always a Southern Baptist.'" This repetation created a wonderful lament, but on the whole unpersuasive.