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New book showcases Baptist history

NASHVILLE (BP) — Three Baptist history scholars were not completely satisfied with the textbook options in their field, so they decided to write their own.

In “The Baptist Story,” Michael Haykin, Nathan Finn and Anthony Chute sought to produce a more narrative story that spans four centuries of Baptist history of this diverse group, but is approachable for students and laypeople.

“It seems most Baptist history books are written primarily for the professor instead of the student,” said Chute, professor of church history at California Baptist University. “Our book communicates to the student the material they need to know in a way that is informative and interesting.”

Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union University, noted the idea for a new Baptist history book emerged several years ago. Nothing came of it until B&H Academic asked Finn, Chute, and Haykin, professor of church history at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to tri-author the book.

“There has not been a true Baptist history textbook written by Southern Baptists with a primarily, though not exclusively, Southern Baptist readership in mind for nearly 30 years,” Finn said. “While several fine textbooks have been published, most are not written from a convictionally evangelical perspective, or they only cover Baptists in a particular region.”

Both Finn and Chute said the research and work on the international Baptists and often neglected minority communities within Baptist life was the most interesting for them. “My tendency has been to focus on Baptists in America,” Chute said, “so the global perspective to which we were committed provided an opportunity for me to explore areas that broadened my appreciation for global Baptist work.”

While the work, released last month by B&H Academic, is primarily written as a textbook to be taught in an academic setting, the authors believe churches, pastors and laypeople could benefit from The Baptist Story.

Chute noted readers could gain an appreciation for the diversity among Baptists, but also the core beliefs that unite. “We also hope pastors and church members will gain an appreciation for the sacrifices Baptists have made over the years to establish religious liberty, build mission organizations and more,” he said.

Since the book was written to engage students, Finn would like to see pastors and interested lay people read it to develop a better grasp of Baptist history. “We hope every reader would walk away knowing Baptists have evolved from a tiny sect in England to a global movement mostly characterized by a high view of Scripture, a commitment to following the New Testament in ecclesiological matters, and a passion for evangelism and missions.”

For more information on The Baptist Story or other books from B&H Academic, visit bhacademic.com.