“The Slavs” According To An Early 1900s Canadian Immigration Booklet

It is rather fascinating to see the following assessment of my ethnic heritage (Slavic, Serbian) in a 
immigration-related publication of the Baptist Home Mission Board of Ontario and Quebec:

"The Slav is rugged in physique, docile in temper, and is a much sought workman. But he is lacking in initiative and 
enterprise for he does his work in the same manner as his forefathers a hundred years 
ago. He fails in sustained effort, shrinks from overcoming obstacles, and has no desire to meet the perils of the 
sea. He is slow of intellect, sometimes economizes the truth, and is apt to be intemperate...To offset these and other 
defects he has a genius for expressing his soul in art. All Slavs love music.....The Servians [Serbians] are of a low 
grade of civilization and the most backward of all the Balkan peoples" - C. J. Cameron, Foreigners or Canadians? (The Standard Publishing Company, 1913)

Listen to this Post

Totalitarian Ecumenicity

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I grew up and became a Christian in an Anabaptist sect which was known in Eastern Europe as the “Nazarenes” and Western Europe as the “Evangelical Baptists”. They have been classified as the first Protestants in Serbia, though neo-protestant may be a slightly more accurate description. My forefathers on both sides of my family left the Serbian Orthodox Church for the Nazarene faith.

Due to their Anabaptist beliefs, the Nazarenes were persecuted in Serbia. The Nazarenes grew rapidly in Serbia. So much so that in 1887, a bit of an “ecumenical council” was called to address the issue. It consisted of 14 Serbian Orthodox priests, 1 Roman Catholic priest, 6 Lutheran pastors, and 2 Reformed pastors.

Obviously, this council would agree on little theologically, however what they could and did agree on was to send a petition to the Serbian government asking it to enforce some laws on its books, laws which restricted religious freedom. The laws classified the Nazarenes as an “unrecognized” sect. The implication of this classification was that it was (a) illegal to become a Nazarene, and (b) it was illegal for Nazarenes to get married.

See Branko Bjelejac, “Protestantism in Serbia”, Religion, State & Society 30:3 (2002), 176.

Listen to this Post

“She Is Not One Story Among Others”

Weddingplayerpic_orrBobby Orr was easily one of the best hockey players ever. He made the game look easy.

Though his career was shortened by knee problems, his list of accomplishments is amazing. He revolutionized his position in a way which very, very few others have in any sport–and he did it in a short career of just over 10 years.

Orr showed that a defenceman can be an offensive powerhouse. He won the award for being the best defenceman in the league eight years in a row. He was the league’s “Most Valuable Player” three times in a row.  He remains the only defenceman to win the league’s scoring title. He won two league championships.

When Orr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he was the youngest player ever to be inducted at the time (31 years old).

Recently, Orr wrote a biography. It is interesting to see how he talks about his wife:

“I realize that there is no way to include her in this book in any way that will do her justice. She is not one story among others. She is not just a chapter. Her role in my life can be found on every page…When I give thanks for what is constant in life, Peggy is never far from my mind.” (Orr: My Story, 7)

Listen to this Post

John Gill’s New Confession

indexIn 1729, John Gill led his congregation in Hoselydown to adopt a confession faith he had personally written. It was to replace the one inherited from the founding pastor, Benjamin Keach.

According to The Life and Thought of John Gill (edited by Michael Haykin), Gill’s confession opened the way for a departure from some categories of historic Reformed thought which had been reflected both in Keach’s confession and the Second London Baptist Confession. The shift came in the areas of justification, faith, and the offer of the gospel.

One writer (B.R. White) even said that Gill’s confession “exorcised the ghost of Benjamin Keach from his ministry.”



Listen to this Post

J. Newton Brown’s Contemporaries at the American Baptist Publication Society

Here are a few of John Newton Brown’s contemporaries at the American Baptist Publication Society. These men were officers or board members of the American Baptist Publication Society in 1856 along with Brown (who was the historical editor).

Mayson Brayman (1813-1895)

  • Born in Buffalo, NY
  • Became an editor and a lawyer in Illinois
  • In 1858, he campaigned for Abraham Lincoln’s Illinois Senate candidacy
  • Served as a major in the Civil War
  • Served the American Publication Society as president
  • Was a poet and also wrote a couple of hymns
  • Became the governor of Idaho in 1876, a period which was tumultuous, filled
    with scandals and controversies.

Wilson Jewell (1800-1867)

  • Was a medical doctor
  • Wrote “The baptism, or The little inquirer”

Joseph H. Kennard (1797-1866)

  • Frequent attender of the Philadelphia Baptist association
  • Served for nearly 30 years at Tenth Baptist Church
  • Died of heart clot

Samuel J. Cresswell (1802-1877)

  • Born in England
  • DD from Madison University
  • “a man of much mental activity and power”
  • “a lover of good books and good men”
  • Upon death, his children donated his library to the university in Lewisburg

John P. Crozer (1793-1866)

  • Crozer Theological Seminary was named after him
  • Well known business man and industrialist in Pennsylvania, especially Delaware
  • “model Christian gentleman and public benefactor”

James Wheaton Smith (1824-1900)

  • Born in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Graduated from Brown Universty, Newton Theological Seminary
  • DD from Lewisburg University
  • “a man of commanding presence…[and] rare pulpit talents”. Preached “without notes”.
  • Pastor of Spruce Street Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Established Beth Eden church
  • Corresponding Secretary of the Pennsylvania Baptist Convention
  • Wrote a biography of John P. Crozer and “The dramatic element of pulpit oratory”
  • Wrote a tract “Baptists not Exclusive” in response to Albert Barnes

William H. Shailer (1807-1881)

  • Born in Connecticut
  • Graduated from Madison University in 1835
  • Was president of Conecticut Literary Institution
  • Served as an evangelist and pastor in New England (Mass; Portland, Maine; etc.)
  • Proprietor and editor of Zion’s Advocate
  • Trustee of Newton Theological Institution and Colby University

William Shadrach (1804-1890)

  • Baptist Pastor throughout Pennsylvania, including Pittsburg, Altoona, and Dixonville
  • DD from Madison University
  • Helped raised the funds to endow and build University of Lewisburg
  • Became secretary of the Pennsylvania Baptist Convention and the American Bapitst Publication Society

Listen to this Post

A Review of The Romantic Rationalist

full_the-romantic-rationalistC. S. Lewis looms large as a figure who has influenced Christians in our era and this book seeks to distill some of the “magic” of his thinking. The title captures the unique way in which Lewis blended passion for the life of the heart and the life of the mind. “Romanticism” here is taken to be what Lewis also called “joy”.

The book is a collection of essays from Randy Alcorn, John Piper, Philip Ryken, Kevin Vanhoozer, David Mathis, and Douglas Wilson. It is a conference book. These are all men who have been influenced profoundly by Lewis’ works. The influence shows. They speak with great passion about the legacy of the “master likener”.

I love how Mathis opens the introduction speaking of Lewis’ death, “He went very quietly. It was very British.” He contrasts how at the time when JFK’s death rocked the world, Lewis left this life quiet silently. And yet, he made a big impact on the way many Christians today think about the imagination, faith, literature, apologetics, and theology. There are a lot of other passages from the book that I want to quote, but I refrain so as not to make this review over long (the quotes certainly wouldn’t bore the reader, but alas, I suppose a review ought to have some sense of brevity).

I think the contributor succeed in passionately portraying the role of imagination and faith in Lewis’ legacy. It also sensitively deals with some deficiencies in Lewis’ theology and shows why his works, nonetheless, remain a great treasure with much to teach us today. Each of these essays bring a unique touch and each are unique, engaging, and helpful reflections on Lewis’ life and legacy. And there are two pretty substantial appendices. I most appreciated Appendix Two, which records a conversation among the contributors. I love especially where they suggest little-known works of Lewis which the reader might consider reading.

If there is a flaw in this book, it is that it is perhaps missing an essay or two. Piper’s concluding essay is good, but it still seems like an abrupt end (excellent appendices notwithstanding). I wanted to read more. I really feel there is some sort of gap in the coverage. I can’t quite put my finger on it. In the last essay, John Piper attempts to tie things together and wrap things up, and he does it well. However, something still seems missing–maybe it is just a prompt to dive into Lewis’ works. Nevertheless, this book is excellent, and I highly recommend it.

Listen to this Post

Books Finished in February

(3 paper books, 2 e-books, and 6 audio books)

Listen to this Post

A New Paper On Otis Robinson

My friend Ian Clary has recently uploaded a paper on Otis Robinson, an important early New England Baptist pastor.

The paper is fascinating and well-written. It’s also of particular note to me for these reasons:

  1. Robinson lived/pastored in Androscoggin/Oxford County, Maine, which is where my wife’s parents live. In fact, I’ve done some research on the Oxford County churches.
  2. Robinson worked in the Portsmouth Association together with John Newton Brown, and I’ve been very interested in John Newton Brown. In an as of yet unpublished paper on Brown, I mention that in the late 1820s, both Brown and Robinson participated in the founding proceedings of that association.

If you are interested in American Baptist history, Ian’s paper is certainly worth a read.

Listen to this Post


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: