Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Go ye into all the world, and preach..."

Seventh Day Baptists created societies to support missionary efforts as early as 1818. That was pretty common for Baptists then and continues to this day, but there was, in reaction, an anti-missionary movement among some that Thomas Kidd describes here:
.... Baptists and other evangelicals founded a number of missions-sending organizations in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, which precipitated a backlash among certain Baptists who opposed the work of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions and other such agencies.

Why in the world, we may ask, would any Baptist oppose missions? ....

The two major factors driving antimissionism were radical biblicism and anti-elitism. Most of the leading antimission voices are not well known – John Leland...is the best known today, but others like Daniel Parker and Joshua Lawrence were more vocal at the time. The antimission critics were suspicious of the missions agencies because Scripture did not sanction or contemplate them. ...Antimissionists said that the silence of Scripture prohibited the newfangled organizations. The early church didn’t need them, and the gospel had gone forth in power without them. Why should we depart from the simplicity of the New Testament model, they asked? ....

Some historians have made a great deal out of the “hyper-Calvinism” of the antimissionists, and that theology did play a greater role in the antimissionists’ chief institutional legacy, the Primitive Baptist churches. Daniel Parker, for example, taught a peculiar (and many thought heretical) “Two Seed in the Spirit” doctrine of election, but his view was not held widely among early antimissionists. More commonly, the antimissionists were concerned that the missions agencies, as well as novel revivalist tactics such as the “anxious bench”, might undermine Baptists’ understanding that conversion depended totally on God’s power and sovereign will. This was largely an intra-Calvinist Baptist debate, however. By the 1840s, the antimission Baptists had drawn away as many as 68,000 Baptists from the pro-missions churches. Over time, the antimission movement became institutionalized in the Primitive Baptist churches, but they fell far behind missions-oriented Baptists in adherents by the beginning of the twentieth century. .... [more]
A cousin believes that our great-grandfather—the first Seventh Day Baptist on the Skaggs side of the family—came from the Primitive Baptists. I wonder whether a similar controversy about missions affected SDBs.

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