Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Baptists in the Balance: The Tension between Freedom and Responsibility

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Baptists in the Balance: The Tension between Freedom and Responsibility

Article excerpt

Baptists in the Balance: The Tension Between Freedom and Responsibility. Edited by Everett C. Goodwin, foreword by Bill Moyers. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1997, 416 pp. paper.

The subtitle of this collection of essays expresses the major concern of the editor and the twenty-four contributors to this study of problems facing Baptists today. The unusually full introduction traces the historical development of Baptists in America and shows that conflicts among them have punctuated their experience since they emerged as a distinct Protestant movement in the seventeenth century. The book has five divisions and editor Goodwin has supplied a helpful introduction to each of them. This feature enhances the coherence of the book, even though the authors have written about various topics from diverse points of view.

Part II, "The Search for Authority: Baptist Use and Interpretation of Scriptures," is the heart of the book because all the other controversies that have agitated Baptists reflect their attitudes toward this issue. Several contributors affirm that Baptists are people of the Bible, but their essays show substantial disagreement about the character and meaning of Scripture. Although historic Baptist confessions of faith uphold the trustworthiness and supreme authority of the Bible, those confessions have not deterred Baptists from adopting beliefs and practices contrary to them. …

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