Why and Why Not
Edited by J. M. Frost
The Sunday School Board of
The Southern Baptist Convention
Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. - Matt 28:20.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints. - Jude 3.
THIS book is dedicated to the Baptist brotherhood of the world. Baptists are one in contending for the faith; one in their history and in the heritage of their fathers; one in their purpose to preach the gospel of the grace of God among all nations; and one in their championship of liberty, civil and religious.
This unity is not marred but strengthened rather by the condition that the Baptist host is divided territorially, that the Baptists of England and of Canada, of the North and of the South have each a separate organization for the furtherance of their work and the fulfillment of their missions. In this instance division is strength, and offers an opportunity for the cultivation of fraternity in the highest degree, and each may rejoice in the splendid achievements wrought by the others.
Baptists are a mighty host for God. According to statistics, their membership in the world reaches nearly five millions, divided numerically as follows: In the South, as the constituency of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1,586,709; in the South also, as the constituency of the Baptist National Convention (colored), 1,561,030; in the other states of the Union, 1,006,682; in other countries of the world, 786,701. By virtue of our fundamental principles, each person in these many millions has stood out before his own congregation individually, and for himself made confession of personal sin, declared his repentance toward God and his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, professed to have been the subject of divine power, and to have experienced the working of divine grace; has been buried with Christ in baptism and raised again to walk in newness of life to the glory of God. Following the rule applied in such cases, and multiplying this membership by five, gives a Baptist population of nearly twenty-five millions, a vast army indeed, standing everywhere for fundamental principles.
Baptists have put much of their strength into institutions of learning and sought in every way the advancement of education.. Their school property in the United States according to the Baptist Year Book, is as follows:
|Institutions||No.||Value of property||Endowment||Vols. in Library|
|Universities and Colleges||94||20,534,982||13,062,672||748,532|
|Academies, Seminaries and Institutes||77||4,191,917||731,079||83,089|
Next to the churches Baptists have in their schools the greatest source of power for projecting themselves into the future, for spreading their principles throughout the nations, and for influencing the thought and literature of the ages. It is their purpose that Christ be honored in these schools and colleges, that the Bible be given enthronement as the Word of God, that learning in its highest and noblest forms be subservient to Christianity and find its supreme glory in the glory of the cross.
Baptists have a distinctive faith, and yet hold much in common with people of other names; indeed, their faith is the most universal faith. All Christians hold the baptism of believers, but division comes by adding the ”baptism of infants;” all hold that immersion is baptism, but a wall of partition is made by the adding of ”sprinkling or pouring;” all hold that baptism is a prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper, but the division comes by asking a violation of this principle; all believe in the Scriptures as the rule of faith, but some, insisting upon the authority of other things, stand apart from the Baptists. Our people are as stout as the stoutest in holding fast and true the great doctrine of election with its co-ordinate doctrines, and yet are nothing behind the most earnest in emphasizing the freedom of the human will, and in proclaiming the gospel as the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. Baptists have a singular advantage in the completeness of their faith, which in its very roundness is touched, tangent-like, by the faith of others, so that they come into accord at many points both in belief and practice.
But notwithstanding the many and important doctrines which are common to all evangelical Christians, there are yet fundamental and essential differences, so that the creed of one is not the creed of others. While we may magnify and rejoice in the agreement between the several denominations, yet no good but rather harm will come if we ignore or even make little of the differences. It is far better to recognize these differences, and understand them as differences in our interpretation of the Word of God and to cultivate at the same time earnestness in searching the Scriptures with a persistent purpose to follow where they lead. We accept the Scriptures as an all-sufficient and infallible rule of faith and practice, and insist upon the absolute inerrancy and sole authority of the Word of God.
We recognize at this point no room for division, either of practice or belief, or even sentiment. More and more we must come to feel as the deepest and mightiest power of our conviction that a ”thus saith the Lord” is the end of all controversy. With this definitely settled and fixed, all else comes into line as regards belief and practice. Church relation and membership must be determined not by family ties nor business consideration, nor social conditions, nor personal convenience, but simply and solely by the teaching of the Word of God; and if conviction makes men stand apart, then better stand apart than prove false to one’s highest self. The noblest and mightiest union is the union formed in convictions-none other is worth the naming.
The ”Baptist Why and Why Not,” is a denominational work, presenting a comparative study of denominational creeds. The writers, twenty-five in number, have set forth with fairness and ability what is believed by other denominations, and have put over against this by way of contrast the things which distinguish the belief of our people from the belief of others. ”A Confession of Faith,” as viewed and used by Baptists, whether individually or in their churches, is simply an expression of what they believe the Scriptures teach concerning the several points of doctrine and practice. It is only a declaration of faith showing who we are and what we are, somewhat as the flag floating above the steamer at sea shows ’its nationality. By this declaration of principles, and in the name of our God, we set up the banner that it may be displayed because of the truth.
All Christian people are alike in accepting the Bible for their creed-of course, but beyond this is a question of immense moment at this time, indeed at all times; namely, what do you believe about the Bible? What do you believe the Bible teaches? These questions are basal, and have their answer, so far as Baptists are concerned, in the Declaration of Faith printed at the close of this volume, and of most general use among Baptist churches of this country. To see our belief in contrast with the belief of others is instructive. The different writers have written not only with marked ability, but also with entire freedom from the controversial spirit as that term is generally understood. It has been the one controlling aim not to offend, but to instruct; not to confuse, but to discriminate; not to depreciate others, but to set out and emphasize the things which are believed among ourselves
The ”Baptist Why and Why Not,” is not only doctrinal, but also eminently practical. Going beyond the sphere of doctrine, it sets out also almost the whole round of church life and Christian activity. It pleads for missions; it pleads for denominational schools as the highest form of Christian education; it pleads for the denominational paper and literature; it pleads’ for Sunday Schools in all our churches as fostering the mightiest elements of power; it pleads for the exemplification of the noblest principles God ever gave to men; it can hardly fail to meet its purpose of being an effective ”campaign book,” giving emphasis to the faith of our people, and furtherance to all our denominational interests. This book is meant to be a power, and a power it will surely be, in defense of the faith of our fathers, the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It is the Bible truth shining through the brain and heart of this generation out into the future, to illumine the pathway of our people in the years to come. In sending it forth on this, the first day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred, the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention ventures the hope that it will find its way into many homes and everywhere prove a power for usefulness, to establish the kingdom of Jesus and hasten the day of his coronation.