Whatever the future may be for Southern Baptists, assuredly it is not extinction. Within my lifetime Southern Baptists have grown from one and one-half million to eight and three-quarters million in numbers. Presently they propose to establish 30,000 more churches by 1964, when Baptists of North America plan to celebrate their third jubilee since Luther Rice organized the Baptist General Convention of the United States in Philadelphia in 1814. There may be a crack somewhere in the Southern Baptist “cathedral,” but it is obvious that their ecclesiastical edifice is rising rather rapidly and securely.

The intent here, however, is not to boast, but to face up to threats as well as to reassurances in the foreseeable future. Perhaps the voice of a veteran may be heard in the land.

Trespass Or Mission?

Some anxiety has arisen, even in Southern ranks, over the so-called “invasion” of territories previously occupied by other Baptist bodies, presumably with exclusive rights to such domains under comity policies. Does this mean that Southern Baptist ambition may overstep itself? Unquestionably the Southerns are vigorous and aggressive. Retiring President Casper Warren insists, however, that there is no intention of trespass, only response to urgent needs accompanied by strong appeals from those on the field. Thus they justify entrance to Pacific Coast states, the Middle West, Alaska, and more recently New York. Actually it has always been recognized that local Baptist churches may exercise their self-governing prerogative to join any general body they wish. True, it is admitted that the territorial spread looks rather startling, and some fear and others hope for ultimate continental coverage.

Explanation of this remarkable vitality and ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: