2020 Volume 47

Issue 01 -- Spring 2020

The Future of the Baptist Academy: Essays from Young Baptist Scholars

Editorial Introduction: The Future of the Baptist Academy through the Lens of Young Scholars: pp. 3–5

Roger Ward

Georgetown College

Georgetown KY 40324


Three Rival Versions of Baptist Education: Tribe, Triumph, Travail: pp. 7–23

Douglas Henry

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

Fifty years after a denominational report identified serious shortcomings in Baptist higher education, better theological resources have been developed. However, twenty-first-century Baptist universities face the perennial lures of cultural disengagement and accommodation. I identify these co-optations of Baptist self-understanding as tribalism and triumphalism, and I briefly examine recent historical instances of them. Then, through attention to three literarily-gifted Johns—Newton, Bunyan, and Tolkien—I explore travail, sustained by the virtue of charity, as the narrative frame within which Baptist higher education should take its bearings.


Is There Anything Particularly Baptist about Baptist Higher Ed? Baylor University as a Case Study on the Baptist Principle of Christian Freedom: pp. 25–37

Jenny Howell

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

This paper explores the concept of freedom as it relates to intellectual life within Christian (more specifically and explicitly, Baptist) Higher Education. There are a wide variety of assumptions regarding what exactly Baptists mean when they speak of the Baptist distinctive or principle of  “freedom,” and those different assumptions lead to radically different presumptions of how Baptist Higher Education should be structured. This paper examines Baylor University’s endeavor to create a new kind of Baptist Higher Education in light of the rapid change that the Southern Baptist Convention underwent in the 1980’s. It is the question of how freedom functions in the intellectual life that is, this paper argues, the heart of the struggles and successes and struggles again that Baylor has experienced in the last three decades.


The Difficulty of Wonder and the Possibility of Companionship: Karl Barth’s Evangelical Vision for Higher Education: pp. 39–50

Jordan Rowan Fannin

Berry College

Mount Berry GA 30149

Karl Barth’s writings on the place of wonder in the study of theology may serve as a valuable aid in thinking about the future of higher education. In his later work, Evangelical Theology, Barth examines the shock of wonder and astonishment that accompany theological study and the encounter with theology’s active subject, arguing that these produce both an attitude toward and an aptitude for unceasing inquiry and study. He then illuminates the solitude of wonder, calls for the need for companionship, and hazards a chastened hope for the possibility of a community of fellow wonderers. By retrieving Barth’s teachings on wonder, astonishment, solitude, and community, those of us who cherish higher education are offered an opportunity to contemplate a higher and grander vision for the communities in which we labor, learn, and love.


Hope Against Hope? How End-Times Theology Impacts Christian Higher Education and What We Should Do About It: pp. 51–68

Jacob L. Goodson

Southwestern College

Winfield KS 67156

Do institutions of higher education have an obligation to instill in undergraduate students hope? If so, do they have an obligation to instill in undergraduate students a certain or particular kind of hope? In this essay, which implements both argumentation and autobiography, the author argues that institutions of higher education have an obligation to avoid versions of hope that are escapist and other-worldly. Furthermore, the author suggests multiple options concerning what kinds of hopefulness might be cultivated by institutions of higher education in the 21st century. These multiple options come from commentaries and interpretations of the famous passage in Romans where the Apostle Paul uses the phrase "hope against hope." The author claims that institutions of higher education are obligated to develop hopefulness against escapist and other-worldly hope.


The Text Incarnate: Theology, Allegory, and Language: pp. 69–87

Adam Glover

Winthrop University

Rock Hill SC 29733

This essay takes up the question of allegory and allegorical interpretation in relation both to scriptural exegesis and to a broader set of issues concerning textual interpretation. The argument is in three parts. The first part argues that the allegorical exegesis of Origen and Gregory of Nyssa yields a picture of the biblical text not simply as a source of information about God, but as a kind of sacrament, a place where the divine Logos takes on, so to speak, “real presence.” The second part of the argument expands this idea beyond scripture and scriptural exegesis to include questions of textual interpretation and linguistic meaning-making more broadly. The burden of this section is to show that language in general can be understood as possessing the sacramental or incarnational character that Origen and Gregory associate with scripture. Finally, Part 3 explores some possible implications of this vision for the Baptist Academy and its future.


Reconnecting to Our Roots: Shaping the Future of Theological Education Through Historic Baptist Convictions: pp. 89–107

Heather J. Henson, Gregory J. Henson, Philip E. Thompson

Sioux Falls Seminary

Sious Falls ND 57105

This article examines several aspects of the current crisis in theological education, noting the inadequacy of solutions that do not question certain fundamental assumptions of the task of forming ministers. This contributes to the crushing debt load assumed by many students. The innovative curriculum and revolutionary funding model of Sioux Falls Seminary’s Kairos Project is then presented. Its guiding convictions and commitments are enumerated and briefly discussed. Finally, the Kairos Project is shown to be a faithful, if entrepreneurial, appropriation of the Baptist tradition’s emphasis on the Christian life as a life of discipleship. 


Issue 02 -- Summer 2020

“Glory!”: Essays in Honor of C. Douglas Weaver


Editorial Introduction: Bobbling Baptists on the Head. A Tribute to the Scholarship, Teaching, and Mentorship of Rev. Dr. C. Douglas Weaver: pp. 137–43

Courtney Pace

Prathia Hall Scholar in Residence of Social Justice History

Equity for Women in the Church Memphis TN 38138


The Life and Ministry of My Father: pp. 145–60

Aaron Douglas Weaver

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Atlanta GA 30322

This biographical essay explores the life and ministry of Dr. C. Douglas Weaver, noted Baptist historian and longtime Baylor University religion professor, from the perspective of his son. With a thematic focus on Weaver's Baptist identity and its development throughout his personal and professional life, this article chronicles Weaver's childhood growing up in Virginia, educational journey at Mississippi College and Southern Seminary, academic tenure at Bluefield College (West Virginia) and Brewton-Parker College (Georgia) as well as Baylor University (Texas). Weaver's scholarly contributions to the field of Baptist studies, service as an interim pastor to local Baptist churches, impact of his teaching on undergraduate and graduate students and lengthy fight against cancer are also detailed.


All Out of Tune: The Failures of The Psalmist to Keep the Peace: pp. 161–73

Mandy McMichael

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

An examination of The Psalmist, a hymnal published in 1843 and intended for the entire community of Baptists in America, illustrates a divide between Baptists North and South. Compiled by two northern ministers, Baron Stow and S. F. Smith, the original Psalmist omitted many hymns popular in the South, making it a less attractive option for the region. The omissions are understandable, since Baptists North and South espoused conflicting views about the composition and function of hymns and denominational structures. They preferred different liturgical contexts, read and interpreted scripture through different lenses, and held different theologies. For this reason, the original Psalmist received a Supplement. Still, it failed to unite Baptists North and South. Looking closely at the Psalmist and its subsequent Supplement illumines larger cultural and geographic divides by revealing as much about history as it does about musical tastes. Together, The Psalmist and its Supplement serve as excellent prisms for understanding what was at work in Baptist schism.


“The ‘Boys in Blue’ May Tell the Story”: Race, Religion, and Memory in the Works of Union Chaplain, Frederic Denison: pp. 175–87

Christopher C. Moore

Catawba Valley Community College

Hickory NC 28602

An ongoing topic of interest among historians of the nineteenth-century United States is the religious life of Civil War soldiers, particularly regarding its role in shaping postwar memory. Due to evangelical preponderance in the Union and Confederate ranks, Baptists have featured prominently in these discussions. Many studies of Baptists and the Civil War, however, have focused on Confederate chaplains, especially their efforts to preserve a distinct Southern Baptist identity, foster religious revivals in the Confederate Army, and bolster the burgeoning Lost Cause mythology. What has received inadequate attention is the way in which Union chaplains navigated the stormy waters of race and memory in the mid-nineteenth-century United States.

In the postwar battles over historical memory, noteworthy is the story of Union chaplain Frederic Denison. A Baptist minister, writer, historian, and hymnist, Denison provides an intriguing glimpse into the ways Baptist veterans shaped postbellum accounts of the war. Through detailed reminiscences of his wartime service, his narratives challenged a Lost Cause tradition that was quickly gaining purchase among white Southerners. In particular, Denison spotlighted race and slavery in his writings, something many ex-Confederates avoided at all costs. At the same time, however, his work dripped with paternalism and perpetuated racist stereotypes. His example thus reveals that Baptist chaplains in the Union Army—even while opposing the Lost-Cause-laden perspectives of their Southern Baptist counterparts—also tapped into many of the same impulses that fueled the Lost Cause in the late nineteenth century.


Baptists at Harvard (1880–1922): Conviction Amidst Conflict: pp. 189–202

Mikeal C. Parsons

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

In the early 1880s, Harvard President Charles Eliot hired two Baptists, Crawford Toy and David Lyon, as part of his effort to move Harvard College beyond its regional reputation for training Unitarian clergy into becoming a national presence on the American landscape of higher education. Together, Toy and Lyon, bolstered in part by their Baptist convictions regarding freedom of conscience, were instrumental in leading Harvard to become the first college to drop compulsory chapel for its students. Later, after Toy’s death, Lyon would lead the successful faculty resistance against the anti-Semitic efforts of then president Lawrence Lowell to limit the number of admissions given to Jewish students. For his efforts, Lyon was made honorary vice-president of Harvard’s Menorah Society. Toy and Lyon, widely known for their contributions to the study of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Culture, should also be remembered for the indelible “Baptist” mark they left on the ethos of Harvard University.


Exporting Holy Fire: Southern Baptist Missions, Pentecostalism, and Baptist Identity in Latin America: pp. 203–14

João B. Chaves


Princeton NJ 08542


The Future of American Churches: Is There One?: pp. 215–229

Bill J. Leonard

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem NC 27109

This essay examines the increasing decline of Christian denominations and churches in 21st century America. These trends are evident across the theological spectrum, impacted by the increase of individuals who claim no religious affiliation ("nones"), and the declining numbers of persons entering or retained by Christian communities. 


The Spirited Life of C. Douglas Weaver: A Brief Tribute: pp. 231–33

Molly T. Marshall

Central Baptist Theological Seminary

Shawnee KS 66226


Pretty Fly for A Baptist Guy: The Works of Dr. C. Douglas Weaver: pp. 235–46

Malcolm Foley

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

Issue 03 -- Fall 2020


Engaging James Wm. McClendon Jr.’s Ecumenical Theology: Fifty Years after “What Is a Southern Baptist Ecumenism?”: pp. 249–66

Steven R. Harmon

Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs NC 28017


The Dual Impairments of the “Paralytic” of the Synoptic Gospels: pp. 267–8

Ivan Bankhead

Tiō Associates

Belfast Northern Ireland UK BT7 3JH

The “paralytic” who was lowered through a roof into Jesus’ presence is commonly seen as having been an adult, lame, and cognitively unimpaired. From a review of key contemporary medical writings and a critical and rational reading of the three Synoptic accounts of the incident, other NT narratives and two recent portrayals of the paralytic, this paper constructs a case for his having been envisioned originally as profoundly impaired mentally as well as physically. It shows how this reading can resolve several otherwise problematic issues within the accounts and concludes by suggesting that vicarious faith may prove efficacious for persons with profound intellectual disabilities today.


The Idiom of “Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth” in the Gospels: A Funerary Formula: pp. 283–98

Rodney K. Duke

Appalachian State University

Boone NC 28608

This article examines the idiom of weeping and gnashing of teeth that occurs in Matthew and Luke. This idiom does not support a popular conclusion that the recipients of judgment existed in a continued state of anguish. After identifying some common presuppositions that readers often impose on the interpretation of this and other NT eschatological, judgment texts, the article turns to a fresh look at the idiom in context. I examine the two actions of weeping and gnashing of teeth as a single idiom, not separately. The idiom occurs in an independent clause with set formulaic wording. That formula does not express an action of those receiving judgment. They are dead. Drawing on Ugaritic parallels, the author concludes that idiom was likely a funerary expression in the mouth of mourners and functions in the Gospels as a literary motif for death.

Key Words: final judgment; Gehenna; gnashing of teeth; Hades; outer darkness; second death; weeping.


Paul on God and Glory: pp. 299–316

Carey C. Newman

Fortress Press

Minneapolis MN 55402


Frankenstein: A Theological Meditation on Spiritual Death: pp. 317–338

Trevor B. Williams

Villanova University

Villanova, PA 19085

Friendship is a powerful force in human society and its absence can provoke the conditions of spiritual death. In her response to a post-Enlightenment context that valued an excessive form of individual autonomy, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein (1818) and used the imagery of Satan to describe the shattered friendship of Frankenstein and his monster. Spiritual death is a contested category and for some readers, the word “Satan” also carries cultural connotations that can be distracting. Lawrence S. Cunningham composed a theological meditation on Satan to clarify the core characteristics of evil, pointing to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (1320) and John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) as paradigmatic examples of this imagery. For him, Milton’s Satan represents the pursuit of autonomy at all costs and Dante’s Satan embodies the end results of that choice. Cunningham shows that these characteristics are complementary of one another, but in Frankenstein, they are even more intelligible as narrative elements with a coherent message. In this article, the author argues that Shelley used the imagery of Satan to critique the aridness of rationalism when its account of individual autonomy excludes the formation of friendship. This theological meditation on Frankenstein will begin by describing Shelley’s Romantic context and her approach to spiritual death. Then, it will engage with Miltonian and Danteque imagery in two separate parts, reflecting on how she applied them to the spiritual atmosphere of Frankenstein. Shelley articulated the form of spiritual death that was characteristic of modernity and warned against the kind of frozen isolation that results from the inward turn, the egoistic choice of self. The insights offered through this theological meditation provide readers with a guide to the excesses of individual autonomy and by way of negation, show the value of friendship in a world that has forgotten the imagination.


Baptists and the Significance of “Imperfect Communion”: Review and Reflection: pp. 339–48

Derek C. Hatch

Georgetown College

Georgetown KY 40324

Much has been written about general trends within the ecumenical movement. However, the ways in which particular denominations engage that movement needs more attention. In this article, three recent publications related to the church catholic (Peter Leithart’s The End of Protestantism, Gerald Schlabach’s Unlearning Protestantism, and Michael Kinnamon’s Can a Renewal Movement Be Renewed?) are examined. It then turns to Baptists, who have some ecumenical sensibilities, but display a reticence to a full embrace of church unity. With this in view, the work of these books provides insights that allow imperfect communion to be a sign of progress among (and a worthwhile endeavor for) Baptists.



Issue 04 -- Winter 2020


A Fifty-Year Retrospective of Perspectives in Religious Studies (1970–2020): From Then Until Now:  pp. i–v

Mikeal C. Parsons

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706


You Get What You Get: The Inheritance of Higher Education and its Implications for Pedagogy: pp. 357–65

Christine Brown Jones

Carson-Newman University

Jefferson City TN 33760

As higher education, and Christian higher education more specifically, becomes increasingly complicated, so too do our relationships to our institutions. From them professors inherit both challenges and opportunities. How will we respond to the inheritance we receive from institutions, students, and ourselves? We have many options available, both positive and negative. Our specific context may further narrow the spectrum, and multiple responses may be warranted. This article suggests that professors would be well served by grounding our responses in a paradigm of abundance that seeks peace rather than one of scarcity motivated by fear. Instead of responding from the limitations of scarcity with fearful reactivity, we have the option to respond from the fullness of abundance, working cooperatively and generously. Approaching our institutions, our students, and our own experience with a paradigm of abundance would help us value community, generosity, and growth in ways that would benefit all parties.


Competing Visions of the Wilderness in Numbers 10–21: pp. 367–83

Mark McEntire

Belmont University

Nashville TN 37212

Numbers 10–21 is a combination of three wilderness traditions that can be adequately separated by procedures common to the Neo-Documentary Hypothesis. The test of applying a source-critical evaluation is threefold here. First, do the three separate accounts each exhibit a high degree of narrative coherence? Second, can asking a question related to the larger biblical narrative yield a distinctive answer from each narrative? This question will be: How does the wilderness story understand the place to which the Israelites are travelling?  Finally, can the answers to this question shed light on how the accounts were used to create single narrative?


Reconstructing Junia’s Imprisonment: Examining a Neglected Pauline Comment in Romans 16:7: pp. 385–97

Nijay Gupta

Northern Seminary

Lisle IL 60532

The person called “Junia” in Romans 16:7 has been the subject of extensive research, discussion, and debate for several decades, but especially for the last twenty years. Most of that scholarship has focused on Junia’s sex and whether or not Paul was referring to Junia as an apostle. One of the unfortunate and unintended consequences of the narrow focus on Junia’s sex and apostleship is the academic neglect of Paul’s mention of Junia’s imprisonment 3 (συναιχμαλώτους μου). This article seeks to fill that lacuna by imagining or reconstructing the situation and circumstances of the incarceration of which Paul mentions. Very little Pauline scholarship has considered the circumstances of Paul’s prison companions. Even less has there been consideration of the challenges faced by women who were detained. In the hopes that such an imaginative exercise would contribute to a better understanding of the experience of women in early Christianity, we will consider several factors including: crimes leading to imprisonment, the conditions of imprisonment, the experience of women in particular in Roman confinement, and the (potential) survival and after effects of female prisoners.


Paul on Christ and Glory: pp. 399–413

Carey C. Newman

Fortress Press

Minneapolis MN 55402


Baptists and Seminoles in Indian Territory from the 1840s to 1907: Review and Reflection: pp. 415–33

David Bebbington

University of Sterling, Visiting Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

This article examines the disadvantages and advantages of the Baptists in their efforts to evangelise the Seminoles of Indian Territory down to 1907. They faced the disadvantages of hostility, poor conditions, and the isolation of the Seminole country. They were closely identified with the Creeks, long-term enemies. They encountered competition, rather weak from the Methodists and Catholics, but strong from the Presbyterians. And they lost prestige through siding with the Confederacy in the Civil War. Yet the Baptists enjoyed great advantages. They proclaimed an evangelical message with content that carried particular appeal. Their practices meshed with previous customs of the Seminoles. The unusual African American communities among them transmitted and sustained Baptist convictions. Baptists could draw on the resources from the North as well as from the South. Educational institutions helped, and the female teaching staff did capable work in fostering leaders among the women in the churches. Missionary efforts among the Plains Indians kept up the evangelistic spirit. The sufferings in the last months of the Civil War undoubtedly laid the foundations of commitment for future years. Native preachers, men close to the people, played a major part, and so did the leaders James Factor, John Jumper, and John F. Brown. Hence the normal Baptist missionary method throughout the world, a concentration on mobilising indigenous preachers, was complemented supremely by two distinctive local factors: the refugee crisis at the end of the Civil War and the quality of the nation’s leaders in matters secular and spiritual. The outcome was the successful implanting of the Baptists into the life of the Seminole nation.


Slavery, the Confederacy, and the Origins of Baylor University: pp. 435–59

C. Douglas Weaver

Baylor University

Waco TX 76706

Baylor University was established in 1845 as a Baptist related institution. Its founders and charter board of trustees were Texas Baptist leaders, and all three founders and eleven of fifteen trustees owned enslaved persons. This essay looks at Baylor’s origins and early history (1845-1870) and reveals a southern school’s intimate ties to slavery, aggressive support for a pro-slavery reading of the Bible and the Confederacy, and the development of the myth of the Lost Cause. Research in the records of Baylor, the Union Baptist Association and the Baptist State Convention of Texas (the latter two groups intimately tied to the school) reveal that affirmations of white supremacy were standard fare among Baylor’s leaders. Baylor’s story is representative of other Baptist related schools in the South.