Democratic Baptist Churches Summary

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As the need for orthodoxy became paramount, democratic religion transformed itself in the late 19th century, and the eighth and final chapter catalogues many practical issues. The Baptist church grew phenomenally, from “under 1 million in 1870 to 3.6 million in 1926,” as people flocked in multitudes to Baptist churches. The main woe that churches consistently voiced is the lack of discipline, as many Baptist churches lazed on disciplinary matters. Wills notes “the man who paid $100 toward the pastor’s salary “can go father into the world without anger to his church relations, than a poor man.”” Money, pride, and overlooking offenses all contributed to the problems that the churches in this time recognized. A chief problem that many people in the church saw is dancing, an issue that spiraled to a prohibition of things like billiards, card tables, circuses, dancing parties, and chess. According to Wills, most church discriminated…show more content…
The vast majority of the evidence in this book is exhaustive and uses ample evidence, like early church minutes and newspaper quotations. Wills makes the claim that the vast majority of the churches strictly exercised church discipline, and this manifested itself in the excommunication of church members. This argument is based on the evidence that before the Civil War, “the democratic Baptists had excommunicated more than forty thousand members in Georgia alone.” These same Baptists excommunicated 2% of their members, a large number, one that is very convincing when looked at objectively. When looking at these facts, considering that many of them are taken straight from Georgia records, it makes a strong argument that many of the churches in this time took their church role seriously. Baptists wielded church discipline with rigor and consistently disciplined members perceived as straying from the way of
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