Baptist Attitudes toward War and Peace since 1914

By Hinson, E. Glenn | Baptist History and Heritage, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Baptist Attitudes toward War and Peace since 1914


Hinson, E. Glenn, Baptist History and Heritage


Baptist attitudes toward war and peace have fluctuated widely at different periods of history.

Although a few Baptists have opted for pacifism on occasion, most fit better into the category known as pacificism by which is meant they regard war as a horrible option for resolving disputes between nations but still concede its inevitability on occasion. Sometimes, human beings must pay the supreme price to preserve freedom, eliminate oppression and injustice, or end other evils.

As pacificists, Baptists have diverged little from the Christian mainstream. Despite inheriting some of the same genes as Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers, Baptists have not offered a consistent peace witness. In the period under consideration here, Baptists wavered from enthusiastic support of American participation in World War I (once the nation chose to enter it) to post-war pacifism to somewhat qualified support of World War II as a horrendous but necessary option to mixed opposition to and support of the war in Vietnam to cautious opposition to further escalation of nuclear arsenals. Threat of nuclear annihilation has spurred thorough reexamination of attitudes in all Christian traditions and produced some curious alignments across denominational lines. Nuclear pacifists claim supporters not only in the traditional peace churches but also in virtually every major communion, just as "peace through strength" advocates list comrades even in the traditional peace churches.

In the United States, where Baptists have experienced their greatest success, pragmatism has characterized their attitudes toward war and peace as it has their general outlook. Baptists benefited immensely from hearty support of the American Revolution, for, as the colonists emerged victorious, they had reason to appreciate the formerly despised sect. In that conflict Baptists sensed they had nothing to lose and much to gain by separation from England. (1)

Between 1780 and 1820, Baptists enjoyed growth unparalleled by any other denomination save Methodism, increasing their churches from 456 to 2,700. (2) Because their views on religious liberty and separation of church and state suited the popular mood, they soon became "a truly American church." (3) Small wonder they have seldom distinguished popular sentiment on such matters as war and peace from their own.

Although Baptists in the United States are divided into more than fifty denominations, they have not differed much from one another on attitudes toward war and peace. Because Northern (now American) and Southern Baptists issued the most formal pronouncements, I will rely on them to indicate the mainstream of Baptist thought. Individuals who diverged from this stream will be called on to document diversity, but they should not be counted representative of Baptist thinking.

Pacifism and Pacificism, 1914-1934

The First World War boosted pacifism among Baptists as well as among other Christian communions. Since the late third or early fourth centuries, rigorous opposition to the use of military force and even to service in the army has had consistent expression only among Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers--three relatively small groups. Periodically, however, pacifist movements have washed over people and nations, thus touching virtually all communions, as they did during the onset of hostilities in World War I. In a flurry of organizing efforts on behalf of peace, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation came into existence in England in 1914. Pacifism, nevertheless, gained few adherents outside the peace churches until after the war. A Baptist Pacifist Fellowship did not develop until 1934.

World War I gave greater impetus to what was called "pacificism." Pacificists supported World War I but objected to war in general, opposed conscription for military service, and affirmed the right to conscientious objection. Pacificism grew during the 1920s, reaching a flood tide in the twelve years after the war. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Baptist Attitudes toward War and Peace since 1914
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.