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The New Crusades, the New Holy Land Conflict in the Southern Baptist Convention, 1969—1991 By David T. Morgan The University ofAlabama Press, 1996 246 pp. Paper, $24.95 Reviewed by James L. Peacock, Kenan Professor ofAnthropology, professor of comparative literature, and Director of the University Center for International Studies at the University ofNorth AuthorDavid T. MorganCarolina at Chapel Hill. He was president ofthe American Anthropological Association from 1993 to 1995, and in 1995 was inducted into die American Academy ofArts and Sciences. His fieldwork includes studies in Indonesia. As though following a kind of Gresham's law in the religious realm, fundamentalisms of various kinds have surged throughout the world at the expense of moderate or liberal perspectives. This is obviously true for Islam, reportedly true forJudaism, and apparent also for Christianity. In fact, the trend is of such concern to scholars ofreligion that some ofus have joined together in a global study of fundamentalism, sponsored by the American Academy ofArts and Sciences and published in a series ofvolumes by the University of Chicago Press. In The New Crusades, the New Holy Land, David Morgan brings this global trend very close to home as he cogendy details the ascendancy of fundamentalists and the purge of moderates and liberals in the Southern Baptist Convention during the period 1969 to 1991. Among Morgan's Baptists, one does not encounter the physical violence of Iran or Afghanistan. We are a long way from clerics whipping women on the street when they display their ankles, for example. And it is worth remembering and appreciating the Baptists' relative civility (Morgan notes one incident of a prominent Baptist leader in Texas shooting another, but most violence is rhetorical ). But the process of cultural control, thought control, and beliefcontrol has proceeded relendessly, according to Morgan's account, and it is driven by narrow doctrine and a will to power. From reading this work, one concludes that the narrow and the dogmatic can and will prevail, especially when dogmatism in doctrine is supported by clever and ruthless pragmatism in ecclesiastical politics. Similar impressions are gleaned, of course, from recent trends in government, business, and education, where broader, more liberal views are falling victim to 98 Reviews the know-nothings who act and scheme more vigorously than liberals and appeal to baser visions. Such conclusions are not stated or even explicidy suggested by this book, which confines itself to a detailed narration of the recent rise of fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist Convention. Morgan identifies the founding catalyst of the rise of fundamentalism as M. O. Owens, pastor ofParkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia, North Carolina; Owens shaped both doctrine and organization in the early years. However, Morgan identifies as the leaders of the contemporary movementJudge Paul Pressler, the Princeton-educated Texan, and Paige Patterson , also a Texan. Pressler was the organizer, Patterson the theologian. Morgan details the maneuverings ofPressler, Patterson, and others in various arenas. The annual Southern Baptist conventions (vividly evoked in Will Campbell's novel The Convention: A Parable) are well described as sites of electioneering where fundamentalists usurped leadership. The seminaries and colleges or universities are a second arena of contention. Many seminaries—for example, "Southeastern" at Wake Forest, North Carolina—were purged of liberal faculty (some of whom have found refuge of sorts at such places as Duke University), while the purge failed at such institutions as Baylor, Furman, and Wake Forest Universities, which instead seceded from the Convention. Churches are a third arena: a few, such as Binkley Baptist in Chapel Hill and Pullen Baptist in Raleigh (both North Carolina ) split with the Convention. Readers who are not Southern Baptists but who live in the South will be familiar —just from hearsay and newspapers—with many of the institutions, events, and people mentioned in The New Crusades, the New Holy Landand may even recognize family names here and there (someone with my own name is reported to call moderates "rats and skunks"). But more significant, Morgan's account is masterful in drawing together in coherent and gripping narrative a history that most ofus know only superficially, through bits and pieces. That history is based not only on documents but also on extensive interviews...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 98-99
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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