Against the Wind
The Moderate Voice in Baptist Life
- Author(s): Kell, Carl L.
- Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
- Publication Date: 2009-10-16
- Status: Active
- Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $36.95 | Buy Now
The struggle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention, which was publicly launched in 1979 and concluded in the 1990s, marked an unprecedented turning point in the history of the denomination. Just as a new millennium was dawning, everything in the denomination was different: its priorities, its policies, and its personalities. The conservatives had come decisively to the fore, and those Baptists labeled as moderates found themselves largely exiled from the religious communities that had formed them and to which they had given their lives.
Using rhetorical and historical analysis to illuminate the role of the Baptist moderates and the schisms that led to their banishment, Carl Kell argues that the twenty-first-century Baptist diaspora originated, in an unintended fashion, after World War II. Birthed in a postwar revival movement at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, young men and women with little or no training in preaching and religious organization became the progenitors of a distinctive community of moderate believers. Armed with a spirit of evangelism and missions, fueled by a “rhetoric of freedom,” these men and women would be among the first exiles and martyrs of the fundamentalist takeover that occurred years later.
As he probes the rhetoric that defined the moderate voice in Southern Baptist life, Kell also shows how the rise of a conservative counter-rhetoric associated with biblical inerrancy and related doctrines came into play to exclude and divide members of the convention.
Complementing Kell’s text are contributions by several other prominent observers of the Southern Baptist “holy wars,” among them William Hull, Bill Leonard, and Duke McCall. The end result is a unique and penetrating examination of not only where the Baptist moderates came from, but where they are headed and how they will get there.
Carl Kell is professor of communication at Western Kentucky University. He is the editor of Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War and coauthor, with Raymond Camp, of In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention.