Into Deep Waters

Into Deep Waters: Evangelical Spirituality and Maritime Calvinistic Baptist Ministers, 1790-1855

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 345
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  • Book Info
    Into Deep Waters
    Book Description:

    Maritime Calvinistic Baptist piety emerged from a fusion of revivalism and conversion, and introduced dramatic baptisms by immersion. Rapid Baptist growth was one force leading Anglicans, Methodists, and Presbyterians to initiate a spiritual polemical exchange over baptism. By examining the lives and work of six Baptist preachers and theologians, Into Deep Waters illuminates the ways in which the second generation of Baptist preachers not only defended their tradition in lively debates but argued for a broadly based understanding of their spirituality and ministry, rooted in the practice of the Fathers. In an age when denominational identities in North America are often portrayed as ineffectual, Into Deep Waters is a timely reminder that religious traditions can adapt, change, and inspire renewal.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8209-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    On 9 September 1848 Samuel Elder penned in his diary a lyrical poem in the tradition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge entitled “On the Ruins of an Old Church in Nictaux [Nova Scotia].” In romantic verse, this second-generation Maritime Calvinistic Baptist minister faced the crisis that attended the passing away of his denomination’s founders. The “Fathers” had all been born in the mid-eighteenth century and were spiritually formed in the New Light revival fires of Nova Scotia’s First Great Awakening at the end of the century. Together they forged the basis on which those who followed eagerly built a powerful religious...

  5. 1 Baptismal Practice, Popular Spirituality, and the Formation of Religious Identity among Maritime Regular Baptists
    (pp. 18-41)

    Maritime Regular Baptists emerged in the aftermath of the late eighteenth-century Great Awakening in Nova Scotia (including present-day New Brunswick), which had been led by the enthusiastic revivalist Henry Alline. Believing that ecclesiastical structures quenched the work of the Holy Spirit and that religious rituals such as the sacraments were nonessential, he established a series of loosely connected congregations that persisted well beyond his untimely death in 1784.¹ One of the surprising developments among many of these New Light Christians in the 1790s and 1800s was their adoption of immersionist baptism as valid and, in some cases, essential. Far from...

  6. 2 Harris Harding: A Keeper of Radical Evangelical Piety
    (pp. 42-74)

    If Maritime Regular Baptists were prepared to accommodate a range of religious expressions and beliefs during the first half of the nineteenth century, the highly experiential expression of the Baptist faith was embodied most fully by Harris Harding, an unlikely and reluctant Baptist Patriarch. Throughout his life, he represented to an increasingly sophisticated nineteenth-century Nova Scotia what George Rawlyk perceptively called the “New Light-New Birth” paradigm.¹ Harding bore the traditional marks of a religious outsider, sustaining a radical experiential otherworldly spirituality throughout his life, while also being accepted as a leading community and spiritual leader in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, by...

  7. 3 Joseph Crandall: The Baptist Patriarch of New Brunswick
    (pp. 75-97)

    Joseph Crandall was the most important Regular Baptist leader in New Brunswick during the first half of the nineteenth century. Often known as New Brunswick’s only Baptist “Patriarch,” he achieved this honour and place in the region’s history not because of theological precision, organizational genius, or charismatic religious leadership. Rather, Crandall became a venerated “Father” because of his longevity, his indefatigable itinerancy, and his preaching of what may be called paradoxically a “Calvinized” New Light gospel. Crandall was one who carried the marks of his New Light heritage grudgingly. Longing to advocate an enthusiastic piety tempered by solid ecclesiastical structures,...

  8. 4 Edward Manning and the Search for a Balanced Evangelicalism
    (pp. 98-125)

    Edward Manning was one of the most important first-generation Baptist Patriarchs in the Maritimes.¹ At his death, it was recorded in theChristian Messengerthat “the history of his life is the history of the rise and progress of the Baptist interest in these Provinces.”² So daunted by his contribution to Maritime religious life were his colleagues that no one was willing to assume the awesome task of writing the standard “memoir” of his life. Although Manning began his preaching career as an ardent follower of the Allinite tradition, he came to regard this tradition as implicitly antinomian and by...

  9. 5 “To Wage War against the Baptists”: The Maritime Baptismal Controversy, 1811—1848
    (pp. 126-158)

    If the Baptist “Patriarchs” of the first generation held the distinction of founding the denomination and redefining its radical evangelical piety, it fell to the second generation to defend the Faith of the Fathers and advance the Regular Baptist cause in the Maritimes. Nowhere was this more evident than in the baptismal controversy that preoccupied the Maritime Protestant community for almost forty years. Between 1811 and 1848 the Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians were engaged in an extensive literary debate over the issue of baptism. The controversy centred on two basic questions: “Who is an appropriate candidate for baptism?” and...

  10. 6 Charles Tupper: The Making of a Formal Evangelical
    (pp. 159-184)

    The spirituality and ministry of Charles Tupper represented, in many ways, a radical departure from the revivalist heritage of the Maritime Regular Baptists inherited from the First and Second Great Awakenings. Mentored by Edward Manning, Tupper became one of the leading second-generation denominational leaders not because of his ability to lead revivals but because of his intellectual genius. The best mind produced by the Regular Baptists in the nineteenth century, Tupper was a brilliant linguist, apologist, and theologian as well as an effective pastor, educator, and denomination builder. As a key player in the baptismal controversy, he personified, perhaps more...

  11. 7 Ingraham E. Bill: A Son of the Fathers
    (pp. 185-206)

    Ingraham E. Bill personified, perhaps better than any preacher of his generation, the tensions, aspirations, and balanced evangelicalism of those Regular Baptists who occupied both the pulpit and pew.¹ A thoroughgoing advocate of experiential revivalistic religion, Bill sought to fashion his Christianity to fit the changing realities of ministry in colonial society. Like Charles Tupper, he had the intuitive ability to integrate the revivalist paradigm with education, temperance, the publishing industry, and denomination building. But unlike Tupper, Bill offered evangelistic preaching that was popular, versatile, and appealed to both the formal and antiformal groups that comprised the Maritime Regular Baptist...

  12. 8 Samuel Elder: A Formal and Genteel Evangelical Ministry
    (pp. 207-232)

    “Was ever a ministry more barren than mine?”¹ This was the selfcritical and searching question that Samuel Elder asked himself on 27 July 1851. Only thirty-four years of age and dying of consumption, Elder had laboured since 1845 as the minister of the Regular Baptist church in Fredericton, New Brunswick. A graduate of Acadia College and a member of the second generation of Regular Baptist ministers, he represented the formal “genteel” evangelicalism of a growing Maritime Baptist urban elite at mid-century.² His sense of failure was rooted in a conflict between his desire to replicate the revivalistic Christianity of his...

  13. 9 The Faith of the Fathers
    (pp. 233-252)

    Maritime Regular Baptists suffered a crisis of confidence and identity between 1846 and 1855 as the Fathers, who had all exceeded the biblical three score and ten years, began to die. The death of Joseph Dimock in 1846 was followed in the next decade by that of Edward Manning in 1851 and of Harris Harding and Theodore Seth Harding in quick succession in 1854 and 1855, prompting rumours of imminent spiritual and numerical decline in Baptist churches and fears about what shape the ministry would take in the future.

    This series of crises was exacerbated by the socioeconomic trends that...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 253-296)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-310)
  16. Index
    (pp. 311-330)