Readers interested in the history of Baptists are in for a treat this summer, as two new books will appear.
First, there is Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins’s Baptists in America: A History, due out in June from Oxford University Press, focusing (as the title) says, on Baptists in the United States.
Second, there Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin’s The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement, due out in August from B&H, focusing on the English-speaking world but also integrating stories of non-English speaking Baptists, ethnic minorities, women, and minority theological traditions within the context of historic, orthodox Christianity.
I’ve copied below the publishers’ descriptions and the endorsements for these two books.
The Puritans called Baptists “the troublers of churches in all places” and hounded them out of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Four hundred years later, Baptists are the second-largest religious group in America, and their influence matches their numbers. They have built strong institutions, from megachurches to publishing houses to charities to mission organizations, and have firmly established themselves in the mainstream of American culture. Yet the historical legacy of outsider status lingers, and the inherently fractured nature of their faith makes Baptists ever wary of threats from within as well as without.
In Baptists in America, Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins explore the long-running tensions between church, state, and culture that Baptists have shaped and navigated. Despite the moment of unity that their early persecution provided, their history has been marked by internal battles and schisms that were microcosms of national events, from the conflict over slavery that divided North from South to the conservative revolution of the 1970s and 80s. Baptists have made an indelible impact on American religious and cultural history, from their early insistence that America should have no established church to their place in the modern-day culture wars, where they frequently advocate greater religious involvement in politics. Yet the more mainstream they have become, the more they have been pressured to conform to the mainstream, a paradox that defines—and is essential to understanding—the Baptist experience in America.
Kidd and Hankins, both practicing Baptists, weave the threads of Baptist history alongside those of American history. Baptists in America is a remarkable story of how one religious denomination was transformed from persecuted minority into a leading actor on the national stage, with profound implications for American society and culture.
“Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins are two of the most respectable church historians in the academy today. Their work is always incisive and illuminating—as in reading this book you will soon discover.”
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“‘Baptists,’ the authors say, ‘are notorious for two things–evangelism and schism.’ Baptist successes as evangelists since the colonial era are the basis for their immense influence in American life. Their proneness to schism makes for good stories and is a reason why we need a clear and engaging account such as this. Baptists in America is both readable and fascinating.”
—George M. Marsden, author of Jonathan Edwards: A Life
“In clear and compelling prose, filled with enlightening anecdotes, this book tells the amazing story of how a persecuted minority of Christians, who rejected infant baptism and state control of the church, grew into the largest denomination in the United States with culture-shaping consequences. An important contribution to American Religious History, this book should be widely read by anyone interested in the history and present state of religion in U.S. culture and politics.”
—Albert J. Raboteau, Henry W. Putnam Professor of Religion, Princeton University
“Some books on Baptists in America sprinkle the reader with superficial simplicity, focusing on only one tribe or one aspect of the Baptist experience. Others drown the reader in historical narrative, but with no clear connection as to why non-Baptists ought to care. This book is different. This history offers a full immersion in the Baptist story, in every stream and fork of the Baptist river. This volume connects the Baptist experience to larger trends in American culture, politics, and theology in a way that informs both insiders and outsiders. This book is, without doubt, the definitive work on Baptists in America for this generation.”
—Russell D. Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
The Baptist Story is a narrative history of a diverse group of people spanning over four centuries, living among distinct cultures on separate continents, while finding their common identity in Christ and expressing their faith as Baptists. Baptist historians Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin highlight the Baptist transition from a despised sect to a movement of global influence. Each chapter includes stories of people who made this history so fascinating. Although the emphasis is on the English-speaking world, The Baptist Story integrates stories of non-English speaking Baptists, ethnic minorities, women, and minority theological traditions, all within the context of historic, orthodox Christianity.
This volume provides more than just the essential events and necessary names to convey the grand history. It also addresses questions that students of Baptist history frequently ask, includes prayers and hymns of those who experienced hope and heartbreak, and directs the reader’s attention to the mission of the church as a whole. Written with an irenic tone and illustrated with photographs in every chapter, The Baptist Story is ideally suited for graduate or undergraduate courses, as well as group study in the local church.
“This is the Baptist history textbook I have been waiting for since I studied the subject in seminary. It actually makes the subject interesting! This work has been long overdue.”
—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Respected church historians Anthony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin have served the church well with their book The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement. Though intended as a textbook, their fine work is accessible to most every reader, including those in nonacademic settings. For all interested in Baptist history, I heartily recommend The Baptist Story.”
—Jason K. Allen, president, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“The Baptists have grown from a small and mainly marginal body in seventeenth-century England into a strong and sometimes influential set of denominations across the world. While the core of this account of their development concentrates on the history of the two-thirds of the world’s Baptists who live in the United States, there is also coverage of England, Canada, Germany, and the rest of the world. So this volume provides a concise but comprehensive summary of the course of Baptist life over the last four centuries.
—David Bebbington, professor of history, University of Stirling
“The Baptist story is long and often convoluted. Numerous histories have been written over the course of their 400 years. Each new volume proffers its own interpretation of the data and furthers the cause and concern of the author. While honest, this has not always been helpful, and often fails to provide today’s Baptists with a modern account of their tale that informs the mind and encourages the soul. The Baptist Story, as told by Haykin, Chute, and Finn, changes all that. The authors give us an irenic yet thorough reading of our collective past. They admit the nuances of a faith that boldly defends and exemplifies liberty of conscience while explaining the facts. While the authors concede that their goal was not to provide the definitive telling of the Baptist story, they may have done just that. Haykin, Chute, and Finn are to be commended for their effort, thanked for their grace, and congratulated for their contribution to the cause of Christ and the history of the Baptist people. The Baptist Story always encourages, sometimes challenges, and never disappoints.”
—Peter Beck, associate professor of Christian studies, Charleston Southern University
“The Baptist Story is a masterful work by three superb Baptist historians. Tony Chute, Nathan Finn, and Michael Haykin are to be commended for providing us with an even-handed, incisive, well-organized, and accessible survey of the larger Baptist family. Readers will be introduced to both general and particular Baptists, as well as revivalists and landmarkists, fundamentalists and liberals. In doing so, they will gain a fresh appreciation for the contributions of thoughtful theologians, practical pastors, along with faithful missionaries and martyrs. This full-orbed, carefully researched, and well-written look at the expansion and development of Baptists over the past four hundred years will certainly become a standard resource for the study of Baptist history for years to come. It is with much enthusiasm that I gladly recommend this work.”
—David S. Dockery, president, Trinity International University
“Being a Baptist is about more than bearing a denominational label. It’s about affirming a doctrinal distinctive and embracing an identity based on historical precedent. This superb volume will help you appreciate what it means to be a Baptist and celebrate the unique contributions we have made to global Christianity. Read it with holy awe at how God has used Baptists to make a difference in his world!”
—Jeff Iorg, president, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
“This textbook originates from within but expands beyond the Southern Baptist tradition to narrate the Baptist story in a way readers will understand and appreciate. Images, primary source quotations, and review questions make the book especially useful for the undergraduate or graduate classroom.”
—Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies, Howard Payne University
“The Baptist Story reflects well on the gifts and expertise of three distinguished Baptist historians and professors. They have written an eminently readable, thorough, and well-balanced account of the Baptist past from its roots in English Separatism to the modern context where the Baptist movement has become truly global. The authors respect the diversity and complexity of Baptist history, and they judiciously avoid any partisan agendas. In addition to providing the vital factual information about Baptist history, they suggest some important interpretive and analytical perspectives that enrich their narrative. This textbook should be widely adopted for use in relevant college and seminary courses, as well as in church study groups.”
—Jim Patterson, university professor and acting dean, School of Theology & Missions, Union University
“The Baptist Story is meticulously researched, well written, and full of insight into the history of the people called Baptists. This will be the textbook in Baptist history for the next generation of conservative Baptist students and scholars.”
—Andrew C. Smith, assistant professor of religion and director of the Center for Baptist Studies, Carson-Newman University