Baptist churches and their members have encompassed a range of theological interpretations and a variety of social and political viewpoints. At first glance, Baptist theology seems classically Protestant in its emphasis on the Trinity, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture, salvation by faith alone, and baptism by immersion. Yet the interpretation and implementation of these beliefs have made Baptists one of the most fragmented denominations in the United States, often characterized as a people who "multiply by dividing." In Baptists in America, Bill J. Leonard traces the history of Baptists, beginning with their origins in seventeenth-century Holland and England. He examines the development of Baptist beliefs and practices, offering an overview of the various denominations and fellowships within Baptism, and considers the disputes surrounding the question of biblical authority, the ordinances (baptism and the Lord's Supper), congregational forms of church governance, and religious liberty. Leonard also examines the role of Baptists in the Fundamentalist and Social Gospel movements of the early twentieth century, the Civil Rights movement, and the growth of the Religious Right. Leonard explores the social and religious issues currently dividing Baptists, including race, the ordination of women, the separation of church and state, and sexuality. He concludes with a discussion of the future of Baptist identity in America.
- Publication Date:
- 05 / 06 / 2005