|W. Glenn Jonas, Jr.,|
Nurturing the Vision
Last week I had the pleasure of participating in the annual conference of the Baptist History and Heritage Society held at First Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina in conjunction with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of that congregation's founding. This year's theme (and primary reason for my participation) was "Baptists and Theology."
Three plenary speakers addressed the conference theme and location. W. Glenn Jonas, Jr., Charles B. Howard Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, drew on research for his book Nurturing the Vision: First Baptist Church, Raleigh , 1812-2012 (Mercer University Press, 2012) in his opening presentation "Nurturing the Vision: Highlights from the History of a 200-Year-Old Baptist Church in Raleigh." Bill Leonard, Dunn Chair of Baptist Studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, delivered the address "Conviction and Contradiction: Reassessing Theological Formation in Baptist Identity," and Fisher Humphreys, retired Professor of Divinity at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, presented the concluding address "To Go Forward We Must Go Back: Baptist Theology Since 1950."
The interest of veteran and emerging Baptist historians and theologians in the conference theme was evident in the response to an open call for papers, which yielded a breakout session program of twenty-four papers presented in concurrent sessions. I was able to hear the following papers: "East, West, and Baptist: Finding the Body of Christ at the Lord's Supper" by Welford Orrock of Second Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia; "Baptists and Sacramentalism: Engaging Recent Work in Baptist Sacramental Theology" By Tracey Stout of Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia; "Discovering and Debating the True Church: The Ecclesiology of Hanserd Knollys in 1645" by Bill Pitts of Baylor University in Waco, Texas; "A Cure for the Cankering Error" by Curtis Freeman of Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina; "Baptist Theology: Is There Another Way?" by Jay Smith of Yellowstone Theological Institute in Bozeman, Montana; and "Locating Baptist Dogmatics: Defining and Defending Identity in the Absence of a Normative Theology" by Philip Thompson of Sioux Falls Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I presented a paper on "Baptist Theology in Dialogue: Reports of International Bilateral Conversations with Baptist World Alliance Participation as Expressions of Baptist Constructive Theology," which reflected a portion of a chapter in my forthcoming book tentatively titled The Baptist Vision and the Ecumenical Future: Radicially Biblical, Radically Catholic, Relentlessly Orthodox under contract with Baylor University Press.
I'm grateful to the Baptist History and Heritage Society for providing this opportunity for Baptist historians and Baptist theologians to have a mutually enriching dialogue regarding our common object of academic inquiry--the Baptist tradition.