The Separation of Church & State Defended: Selected Writings of James E. Wood, Jr.

By Derek H. Davis; James E. Wood Jr. | Go to book overview
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Introduction: A Biographical Tribute to James E. Wood, Jr.

In 1980, James E. Wood, Jr. was described by fellow Baptist Stan Hastey as "perhaps the most able living church-state scholar among Baptists in America." Now fifteen years later, due as much to his prolific scholarship as to his work as a consultant to nations around the globe, it may readily be said that Wood is today the leading authority in the world on the subjects of church-state relations and religious liberty. As we pay tribute to Wood on the occasion of his retirement in 1995 as director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, it is fitting that we reflect upon his remarkable record of achievement, a record that spans his life as a Baptist missionary, as the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, as a professor of the history of religions and church-state studies at Baylor University, and as editor of the world's only scholarly journal devoted exclusively to the subject of church and state, the Journal of Church and State.


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Born in Portsmouth, Virginia on July 29, 1922, Wood grew up in a close-knit family. His father, James E. Wood, Sr., was a painting contractor who divided his time between painting homes and painting ships in the naval shipyard at Portsmouth. His mother, Elsie Bryant Wood, was a homemaker. Both were persons of wide-ranging interests, especially fond of music and

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