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Between the Civil War and the turn of the last century, Southern Baptists gained prominence in the religious life of the South. As their power increased, they became defenders of the racial, political, social, and economic status quo. By the beginning of this century, however, a feisty tradition of dissent began to appear in Southern Baptist life as criticism of the center increased from both the left and the right. The popular belief in a doctrine of "once saved, always saved" led progressive Baptists to claim that moderates, once saved, did not address the serious social and political problems that faced many in the South. These Baptist dissenters claimed that they could not be "at ease in Zion."
Led by the radical Walter Nathan Johnson in the 1920s and 1930s, progressive Baptists produced civil rights advocates, labor organizers, women's rights advocates, and proponents of disarmament and abolition of capital punishment. They challenged some of the most fundamental aspects of southern society and of Baptist ecclesiastical structure and practice. For their efforts and beliefs, many of these men and women suffered as they lost jobs, experienced physical danger and injury, and endured character assassination.
In A Genealogy of Dissent, David Stricklin traces the history of these progressive Baptists and their descendants throughout the twentieth century and shows how they created an active culture of protest within a highly traditional society.
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title
David Stricklin is assistant professor in the Division of Humanities at Lyon College.
"A marvelous book that every Southern Baptist should read. . . .Present-day Southern Baptists who do read it, whether they come from the ‘fundamentalists’ who now control the denomination or the ‘moderates’ who used to control it, will be jolted by David Stricklin’s insights."—Alabama Review
"Stricklin’s admirable book brings to light figures, little known even to most Baptists, who stood up against the conservative majority’s positions on race, war, materialism, anti-intellectualism, the position of women, and fundamentalism."—American Historical Review
"A significant contribution to understanding the relationship between religion and society. . . . Vital for anyone interested in the region and its past."—Arkansas Review
"These ‘progressives' grew up within the context of the Southern Baptist Convention and sought to change or at least awaken the denomination to various social, political, or spiritual responses to contemporary issues. Important in understanding the diversity of groups and approaches within the larger denomination."—Bill J. Leonard
"Allows one to see that there were some dissenting Southern Baptists who were as dedicated in their beliefs as those who ran the traditional programs."—Bowling Green Daily News
"The latest of many book analyses of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), this creative and perceptive volume may be the best."—Choice
"Must reading for anyone wishing to understand what happened to the Southern Baptist Convention in the eighties and nineties and for anyone trying to come to grips with that it means, historically, to be Baptist."—H-Net Book Review
"Well and clearly written, closely argued, temperate, sensitive to a variety of opinions, and persuasive, this book should be read by everyone interested in twentieth-century southern religion, and it is absolutely essential for those fascinated by the conflict that has rent the Southern Baptist Convention."—John B. Boles
"Uncovers individuals virtually unknown even in the expert scholarly literature. . . . Well researched and written with some stylistic flair, this work contributes significantly and originally to the scholarly literature on southern religion and southern dissent, and in the final chapters it makes an argument that should stir discussion and probably dissent."—Journal of American History
"Stricklin’s well-documented and superbly written study of one segment of Southern Baptist life is required reading for anyone interested in either southern religion of the twenty-two-year-old conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention."—Journal of Church and State
"Well written and well documented. . . . Identifies historical features of the SBC that historians have often ignored, overlooked, or minimized."—Journal of Religion
"A fine contribution to Baptist and southern studies."—Journal of Southern History
"The majority of Stricklin’s work is based on rich primary sources, and he tells a story that is worth reading."—North Carolina Historical Review
"An important work in helping to redefine an influential group of American Protestants."—Ohio Valley History
"A thoughtful, provocative book that should be read by those interested in southern religion and its influence on the region."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"Not only enlarges the readers’ knowledge of this largely ignored sub-group, but also provides a key to understanding the recent controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention."—Religious Studies Review
"Looks beyond the standard characterizations of Southern Baptists to examine several issues of disagreement and dissent within their churches, organizations, and institutions."—Southern Quarterly
"Stricklin uncovers a rich heritage of progressive dissent during the 20th century. This is one book that all serious students of Baptist history should have in their personal library."—Aaron D. Weaver, The Journal of Baptist Studies 2
"David Stricklin’s A Genealogy of Dissent depicts a powerful Baptist counterpoint to social conformity and culture-based Christianity in the first half of the 20th century."—Edward R. Crowther, The Journal of Baptist Studies 2
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Southern Baptists, Southern Baptist Convention, Progressive Baptists
History of Religion
Stricklin, David, "A Genealogy of Dissent: Southern Baptist Protest in the Twentieth Century" (2000). History of Religion. 8.