By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
It was just one article, but its publishing in 1896 ignited a flashfire reaction across the Southern Baptist Convention. Sides formed. People postured. Proverbial lines were drawn in the sand. Rhetorical flames fueled by passionate conviction rose higher and higher and threatened to gut any good work Southern Baptists had accomplished.
But a voice of reason can extinguish the flames with a much-needed biblical perspective.
E.E. Folk was that voice.
Folk was the proprietor and editor in 1897 of the Baptist and Reflector. Folk was described as “a strong promotor of the entire denominational program on both the state and national levels.” His diplomacy was needed because when William H. Whitsitt, president at the time of Southern Seminary, published his article disparaging Landmarkism, he effectively tossed a match on dried kindling.
Many Southern Baptists of the day firmly embraced a Landmarkist perspective. Outrage swelled. Entire associations called for Whitsitt’s immediate resignation. Others called for a rigorous academic inquiry to be made on the subject while others counseled Southern Baptists to reject “judgements” and expressions of “opinions” which would “injure the seminary.”
The battle raged on, but Folk stepped into the fray and wrote that while there were strong arguments on both sides, there was a larger view that was more important. [Read more…]