Book Notice: BAPTISTS AND THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION: TOWARD AN EVANGELICAL BAPTIST CATHOLICITY, edited by Matthew Y. Emerson, Christopher W. Morgan, and R. Lucas Stamps

Published on November 4, 2020 by Benjamin J. Montoya

B&H Academic, 2020 | 400 pages

A Brief Book Notice from Books at a Glance


About the Book:

In Baptists and the Christian Tradition, editors Matthew Emerson, Christopher Morgan and Lucas Stamps compile a series of essays advocating “Baptist catholicity.” This approach presupposes a critical, but charitable, engagement with the whole church, both past and present, along with the desire to move beyond the false polarities of an Enlightenment-based individualism on the one hand and a pastiche of postmodern relativism on the other.


About the Editors:

Christopher W. Morgan is dean and professor of Theology of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University in Riverside.

Matthew Y. Emerson is associate professor of religion and holds the Dickinson Chair of Religion at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK.

R. Lucas Stamps is associate professor of Christian Studies at Anderson University.



“Tradition, creeds, liturgy, retrieval, and catholicity are words seldom used in the Baptist world; at least they are not used in a positive sense! However, the contributors to Baptists and the Christian Tradition make a compelling case this should not be the case. This is an excellent work written by some of Baptist’s finest thinkers. We have needed a book like this for a long time and now we have it.”
—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Baptists and the Christian Tradition is a tremendous contribution to the very important debate over whether evangelical Baptists must surrender our doctrinal distinctives in order to engage the Great Tradition. The authors respond with a resounding ‘no.’ Baptists, they argue, can and must position Baptist life within the larger Christian tradition and must do so not only doctrinally but also liturgically. The authors are absolutely right, and this book is a must-read for pastors, professors, and students.”
—Bruce R. Ashford, provost and dean of faculty, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Baptists have often been accused of being sectarians by other ecclesial traditions. Unfortunately, sometimes we’ve deserved it! That is why this book is so timely. Baptists and the Christian Tradition makes a case for a winsome vision of catholicity that is distinctively Baptist, convictionally evangelical, and warmly ecumenical. The editors have assembled a first-rate group of scholars to address this vision from a variety of complementary perspectives. Baptist pastors, theologians, and other ministry leaders should find much worth reflecting upon as they seek to embody Jesus’s prayer that his followers will be one, just as he and the Father are one.”
—Nathan A. Finn, provost and dean of the university faculty, North Greenville University

“Many associate the word ‘Baptist’ with a narrowly sectarian mentality. But as this collection of astute essays demonstrates, the Baptist tradition has, in the main, positioned itself in continuity with the historical and global church. This helpful book will help those who want to affirm Baptist distinctives without slicing themselves off from the broader Christian tradition. It is possible to be a Baptist with catholic sensibilities!”
—Gavin Ortlund, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Ojai, CA

“As an interpreter of Scripture proud to have been nurtured in the Baptist tradition, this volume displays the vast riches of the past as well as providing an orientation toward hope for the future. I am eager to share with my students that which unites Christian denominations as well as the distinctives of this vast and influential body of believers.”
—Amy Peeler, associate professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

“This book provides must-read contributions on Baptist thought and practice. Each contribution is a worthwhile exercise in historical theology that provides a framework for looking backward and recognizing the classic distinctives and gifts of Baptist theology to the church, often while looking forward and offering proposals for how the Baptists of today can be more ecumenical, humble, and most importantly faithful. This collection represents the best that Baptist theology has to contribute through its focus on Scripture, theology, worship, and mission.”
—Madison N. Pierce, assistant professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Evangelical Baptists have as much right to the great tradition of Christian orthodoxy as any other group, and they should act like it by owning up to what this constellation of first-rate scholars calls ‘Baptist catholicity.’ Embracing the final authority of the Bible for Christian faith, these authors call fellow Baptists to interpret and apply the sacred contents of the Bible in communion with the saints, with guidance from the past. Baptist faith is not a new, uniquely modern form of religion. It is part of what we sometimes call the small-c catholic church. And dismissals of the wisdom gained through centuries of orthodox Christian faith and practice are a recipe for heresy and sin. May God bless our Baptist churches with a season of renewal as they appropriate the riches of church history.”
 —Douglas A. Sweeney, dean and professor of divinity, Beeson Divinity School

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B&H Academic, 2020 | 400 pages

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