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The Formation of the Primitive Baptist Movement


Taylor, Jeffrey Wayne


Pandora Press



$25.00  ($CDN)


•  ISBN: 1894710428


The Primitive Baptist movement, and the story of its formation, is important for several reasons. For the history of the United States, the Primitives illustrate the interplay of religion and culture. Within a modernizing culture, they embraced railroads, but would not modernize their religion. Within the politics of Jacksonian America, their religious convictions impelled them to take sides on certain issues, and to see danger in attempts to "Christianize" the United States. Within the constitutional structure of the separation of church and state, they fiercely contested attempts to create an unofficial established religion. For the history of Baptists, the Primitives are an essential part of the story of nineteenth-century changes. They were a countervailing voice to the shift away from strict Calvinism, to the shift toward denominationalism, and to the embrace of innovation in congregational life. They remind us that the request by today's Baptists to be given "that old time religion" often refers to practices less than two hundred years old. Primitive Baptist criticisms of the emerging Baptist mainstream raise questions with continuing relevance: Are denominational structures a good idea, or is national organization dangerous? May the church accommodate itself to cultural changes, or must the church be unchanging in its faith and practice? Is respect by other denominations a good thing for Baptists, or can it bring dangers? For ongoing Christian reflection, the Primitives raise perennial questions and give thoughtful answers.


Taylor's splendid study offers chronology, profiles personalities, evaluates important writings, charachterizes the contexts, highlights doctrinal distinctive and points out peculiarities in the rise and decline of the Primitive Baptist Movement. ...with a valuable set of appendices and a full bibliography, Taylor's The Formation of the Primitive Baptist Movement has opened the door to that needed new appreciation and at the same time given most ordinary mortals all they will ever need to know about Primitive Baptists. ----Journal of Church and State reviewed by James M.Dunn, Wake Forest University Divinity School Dr. Jeffrey Taylor has done us a great service in re-casting the story of Primitive Baptist origins in a scholarly treatise. His knowledge of specific details and personal interconnections of the Primitive Baptist family is unsurpassed in print. In the midst of a burgeoning nation where the main religious bodies were scrambling to build denominational apparatuses the Primitive Baptists were disinclined to follow suit. His contextualization of the Primitive Baptist movement within the general historical era of Jacksonian America, makes this volume a very good religious history indeed. ---- William H. Brackney Jeffrey Wayne Taylor's insightful treatment of the denomination's formative period makes a welcome addition to the literature on the movement, informing and challenging the Primitives, their students, and their critics. ...The book examines their view of the relationship of the church to the society and the apocalyptic expectations that sprang from what they saw as gross departures from orthodoxy by a majority of Baptists. ...Taylor's work makes a valuable contribution by emphasizing that opposition to mission societies by early Primitive Baptists did not extend to evangelism itself. ...In his conclusion, Taylor challenges those who might dismiss the Primitive Baptists as religious fossils. Their questions on the relationship of the church to the surrounding culture and to Scripture remain vital to Christians and those who seek to understand them. ----The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 71, No. 4, Nov. 2005 reviewed by John G. Crowley, Valdosa State University