The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 152
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
camp are stated clearly at the outset, Leonard's insight into the background,
successes, and failures of the fundamentalist and moderate contingents are
particularly perceptive. While his is not the objective investigation that will
someday come, it is nonetheless a valuable piece of work for scholars and a
probing analysis for Southern Baptists currently in the midst of the struggle.
Leonard defines the fundamentalist faction as "persons within the SBC who
accept a doctrine of biblical inerrancy as the only method for defining biblical
authority" and seek "to make that doctrine normative" (p. 7). Moderates, he
suggests are simply those who oppose this organized effort though they may, in
fact, hold to the same beliefs as the fundamentalists. Leonard traces the origins
of the conflict to a sudden shift in the way Southern Baptists conducted busi-
ness after 1979. Up until that year, the SBC survived on a fragile foundation
built through adherence to the "Grand Compromise"-an unwritten agree-
ment that prevented ideologues on the left or right from controlling the con-
vention lest the primary emphasis on evangelism and missions be hindered.
The Grand Compromise, however, came to an abrupt halt during the decade
after 1979. Recognizing "the institutional Achilles' heel that denominational
protectionists had overlooked," (p. 176) fundamentalist strategists worked to-
ward getting their own candidates elected as president of the convention. Then
by using that office's sweeping appointive powers, they embarked on a ten-year
stint of filling vacancies on institutional committees and trustee boards ex-
clusively with convention members who accepted their theological position.
As a result, the character of the Southern Baptist Convention changed, and
the outgrowth has been a bitter debate over resources and direction of the
Leonard's presentation shows a solid familiarity with secondary source mate-
rial on Southern culture and Southern Baptists. The most unique part of his
study are the closing chapters that draw more heavily from primary source ma-
terial in outlining the progress of the controversy over the past ten years. Many
historians will be troubled by the degree to which he discusses the "inevi-
tability" of the conflict. Leonard suggests that the amazing aspect of Southern
Baptist history is the length of time that diverse groups worked amiably to-
gether. While that may be true, his contention that a break was inevitable is not
justified simply on the grounds of competing interests within the convention.
Despite that drawback, God's Last and Only Hope furthers our understanding of
the one thing that truly is inevitable in the human experience-the painful
process of change.
Appalachian State University JAMES R. GorF, JR.
Arkansas Made (Volume I): A Survey of the Decorative, Mechanzcal, and Fzne Arts
Produced in Arkansas, x8z9-z870. By Swannee Bennett and William B.
Worthen. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1991. Pp. 221. Intro-
duction, notes, appendices, black-and-white photographs, color photo-
graphs, color plates, black-and-white plates, acknowledgments, bibliogra-
phy. $45, cloth; $35, paper.)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/178/ocr/: accessed September 28, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.