The Baptist Bible Union of America
The Baptist, October 7, 1922, p. 1110, 1132
A new movement for doctrinal formularies,
inspired by English Baptists.
Twenty thousand copies of a “Call and Manifesto” have been sent to the Baptist churches of the United States and Canada, inviting them as churches and individuals to become subscribing and sustaining members of the “Baptist Bible Union of America,” which has been organized with a “Doctrinal Basis” and a statement of “Aims.”
The Baptist has received a letter from Elyria, Ohio, signed by three of our Baptist brethren, R.E. Neighbor, W.L. Pettingill, and O.W. Van Osdel, enclosing a copy of the “Call and Manifesto” and requesting us to publish the larger portion thereof. Although there is no indication that the movement is designed either to promote the New World Movement or to extend the circulation of The Baptist, we readily accede to the courteous request of our brethren above named, and give ample space to the announcement of their program for a new segregation and realignment of the Baptist churches of the North American continent.
The “Call and Manifesto” is signed by 135 men (as far as we can determine there are no women in the list), eleven of whom are laymen, and “the others are pastors, evangelists, and Bible teachers.” Of the total who signed, twenty-three are from Michigan and twenty-four from Ohio. A patient study of the list of signers fails to reveal the names of any considerable number of men who have been conspicuous in their advocacy of the world-embracing program of the Northern Baptist Convention as defined in the New World Movement.
Eight of the signers of the “Call and Manifesto” were also signers of the call for the Buffalo Fundamentalist Conference: W.S. Bradshaw, of West Virginia; F.W. Farr,In the “Call and Manifesto” Mr. Farr’s name appears as P.W. Farr; the identity is therefore not certain of California; C.H. Heaton, of Michigan; Lawrence A. Meade, of Michigan; W.L. Pettingill, of Pennsylvania; H. Steward Tillis, of Pennsylvania; W. Leon Tucker, of New York; and George M. Vercoe, of Michigan.
The “Call” is printed verbatim herewith:
Whereas, There has arisen within the bounds of Baptist denominationalism an ecclesiasticism, dominated by modernism, which has turned away from the Integrity, Finality and Sole-Sufficiency of the Bible as the Inspired Word of God and from the simplicity of Apostolic Evangelism—the message and method of our Fathers; and
Whereas, Within the bounds of Baptist denominationalism this ecclesiasticism, dominated by modernism, has forced the Orthodox into an unholy and God-forbidden alliance with the Heterodox; and
Whereas, There has arisen from every side, both from churches and individual members, a call loud and long for a new fellowship in Christ Jesus wherein those who hold to the Integrity, Finality and Sole-Sufficiency of the Bible as the Word of God, and who hold to the simplicities of Apostolic Evangelism, may meet in communion, apart from unholy collusions which gender strife;
Therefore, We, the undersigned Baptist ministers and laymen, send forth the enclosed statement of the Baptist Bible Union of America, requesting that all those who stand with us in the Doctrinal Basis and Aims of the Union, and who desire membership therein shall sign the attached membership application as per instructions on another page.
Limitation of space prevents the publication of the entire list of signers, which includes, in addition to the eleven already given: Mr. Elsworth Brown, of Dayton, O.; Joseph Cohn, of Brooklyn; Mr. E.S. Carman, of Cleveland; Rev. H.C. Fulton, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rev. Charles F. Fields, of Chicago; Rev. C.E. La Reau, of Detroit; Rev. D.D. Munro, of Kansas City; Rev. J. Frank Norris, of Fort Worth, Tex.; Dr. W.B. Percival, of Pasadena, Cal.; Rev. J.A. Sutherland, of San Jose, Cal.; and Rev. H.R. Whitlock, of Manchester, N.H.
The “Manifesto” provides for a national or general body and also for state or sectional unions. It is announced that “a call for a national convention will be sent forth in due season.” The more essential articles of the “Manifesto” are as follows:
Definition: The Baptist Bible Union of America is a fellowship of Baptist churches and Baptist believers accepting its Doctrinal Basis and Aims.
Membership: 1. All Baptist churches, Baptist ministers or Baptist church members who endorse the Aims and Doctrinal Basis of the Union, as set forth herein, shall be eligible for membership. 2. Churches or individual believers, becoming members of the Baptist Bible Union, may follow their own pleasure as to maintaining other Baptist denominational affiliations.
An executive committee and a council provide the machinery for “carrying forward the policy of the Union … but always in line with and never contrary to the expressed will of the Union.”
The “Aims” of the Union are set forth in the following statement which is printed verbatim:
Aims: 1. To ‘Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints,’ and the presentation of a united witness to the Bible as not only containing and conveying, but as being in itself the Word of God. 2. The maintenance of the Evangelical Faith; and especially of those essential and clearly revealed doctrines which, at the present time, are being assailed, questioned or ignored in certain circles. 3. To promote a deeper fellowship and a closer cooperation amongst Baptist churches and Baptist believers who hold a like precious faith,’ and who walk together in their conception of the mission of the church. 4. To oppose any federation of Baptist churches or believers upon any basis which involves the sacrifice of principle, or which discredits the Bible and dishonors the Lord Jesus Christ. 5. To promote such missionary, evangelistic and educational work as the Union may feel led to undertake or desire to encourage. 6. The maintenance of the right of each local Baptist church to manage its own affairs, under the sole authority and rule of the Lord Jesus Christ, and apart from any outside demands.
The “Doctrinal Basis”
The “Doctrinal Basis,” full and hearty subscription to which is a condition of membership in the Union, is as follows:
Doctrinal Basis: The following does not profess to be a comprehensive Creed, but is merely a Statement of such truths as, in the present circumstances, it is important that Baptists should rehearse and emphasize, in view of their historic witness and of the flagrant ambiguities and omissions of fundamental and vital truths in the Doctrinal Basis of the Modernists. We emphasize, in particular:
I. The Divine Inspiration, and the Integrity, Finality, and Sole-Sufficiency of the Bible as the Word of God. II. The Holy; Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit—Three Persons in one Substance. Power and Eternity in the unity of the Godhead. 1. The Love and Grace of the Father. 2. The Redemption by the Son: a. His Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Sinless Nature and Life, and His Infallibility as Teacher; b. His Substitutionary and Atoning Death; c. His Bodily Resurrection, actual and real; His Ascension into Heaven, invested with all authority; His Mediatorial Intercession, High Priest over the household of God; and His Glorious Second Advent—premillennial, personal and visible. 3. The Regeneration, or New Birth, by the Holy Spirit. III. The Depravity and Sinfulness of Mankind, in consequence of the Fall. IV. Justification and Adoption by grace, through faith in the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. V. The Baptism of believers by Immersion, and the Memorial Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. VI. Sanctification by the Holy Spirit through faith and the Word, leading to the growth in Spiritual life of God’s people. VII. The Resurrection of the body, both of the just and the unjust, but each in his own order, and the final Judgment of the wicked by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The “Call and Manifesto” includes an application for membership and a request for funds to make possible the circulation of the document among the churches of the United States and Canada and all the foreign missionaries supported by these churches. Such applications and funds are to be sent to O.G. Nichols, assistant pastor of the First Baptist Church of Elyria, Ohio.
It is of interest to note that this most recent movement for a realignment of the Baptist churches of North America is positively and exclusively premillenarian. Mr. Charles R. Brock in his notable and authoritative statement of fundamental views widely published last summer Page 1132 declared: “There is an impression abroad that premillennialism is accepted by the fundamentalists as definite truth. This is not true.” The “Doctrinal Basis” of the “Baptist Bible Union of America” includes “His glorious second advent—premillennial, personal, and visible,” as one of the “essential and clearly revealed doctrines,” the hearty avowal of which is prerequisite to membership in the Union.
The new movement is also confined exclusively to Baptist churches, and includes in its “Doctrinal Basis” as a fundamental and vital truth “The baptism of believers by immersion.” This feature of the movement is of interest in the light of the facts set forth in the article on the opposite page, and in view also of the fact that one of the most eminent advocates of the Los Angeles fundamentalist interdenominational program which Dr. Scarborough reviews, is also one of the most eminent among the signers of the “Call and Manifesto” of the “Baptist Bible Union of America,” namely Dr. J. Frank Norris of Texas.
In connection with this response of ours to the request from the committee to give publicity to their “Call and Manifesto,” it will be of interest to call attention to the fact that among the signers to the “Call” are three English Baptist brethren: “W.J. Ervine, Esq., London, president; James Mountain, D.D. London, secretary; John Thomas, M.A., London, vice-president; representing the Baptist Bible Union of England.”
Although the “Call and Manifesto” reveals no special reason for the inclusion of these three English brethren in a call for the formation of “The Baptist Bible Union of America,” we are able to supply from other trustworthy sources information which will account for their manifest interest in the new American movement. Last winter the Western Recorder published an article from Dr. A.C. Dixon of Baltimore, distinguished as the successor of Dwight L. Moody in America and of Charles Haddon Spurgeon in England. The article, which was entitled “Some English Baptists and Modernism,” was reprinted in Christian Fundamentals edited by Dr. W.B. Riley (Jan-Mar., 1922, page 40).
Dr. Dixon evaluated, with a marked degree of moderation in encomiums, a number of eminent English Baptists; and then turned to another group whom he pronounced more trustworthy. Among these latter he named Dr. James Mountain, whom he described as standing “like a mass of granite against all winds and waves of apostasy,” and as having been the organizer of “The Baptist Bible Union.” Dr. Dixon went on to say: “This ‘Baptist Bible Union,’ in which are some of the rising young pastors, is what the Baptist fundamentalists in America, North and South, ought to support in every possible way. Its three-fold purpose is: (1) To ‘Contend earnestly for the Faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.’ (2) ‘To promote a deeper fellowship and a close cooperation amongst evangelical, biblical Christians of all denominations.’ (3) ‘To oppose the federation of the free churches, and any kind of organic reunion, upon a basis which would involve the sacrifice of principle, or would discredit the Bible and the Christ of the Bible.’” It is evident from this statement and counsel of Dr. Dixon, that the “Baptist Bible Union of America” is the American branch of the “Baptist Bible Union” organized by Dr. Mountain in England. The similarity of text in the statement of “Aims” extends even to the repetition of the peculiar English spelling in the American version. Doubtless the committee would readily grant that the relationship indicated accounts for the inclusion of the three English names among the signatures to the “Call and Manifesto.”
The committee requests us to announce that “copies of the ‘Manifesto’ will be furnished by our secretary to those who make application for same.”