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Carson-Newman's Smith explores forgotten piece of Southern Baptist history in new book

Campus News | June 23, 2016

Dr. Andrew Smith

(June 23, 2016)—A Carson-Newman faculty member has released a new book exploring how the Southern Baptist Convention reacted to the northern fundamentalist movement of the early twentieth century.

Assistant religion professor Dr. Andrew Smith wrote "Fundamentalism, Fundraising, and the Transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1919-1925," released by the University of Tennessee Press in May. It is geared toward Baptist historians, but Smith says it will be useful for Baptist and academic communities at large.

"The Baptist tradition in America is quite broad, but people with an interest in Southern Baptists from left to right will find things here that they find interesting or maybe provocative," Smith says. "I think it leads to a more robust understanding of Southern Baptist identity for readers who are more denominationally oriented."

The book bridges a gap in existing research of twentieth century Baptist history, exploring in-depth aspects of Southern Baptist history often glossed over or forgotten entirely. Smith argues this period helped shape the Southern Baptist Convention’s current model of fundraising, and Southern Baptist identity itself.

"This makes it impossible for scholars to say that Southern Protestants ignored fundamentalism—they weren’t active in the way northerners were active, but they were very active," Smith says. "It shows that you can’t tell the story of fundamentalism without taking these southern movements into account."

From initial research to print, Smith spent eight years writing what began as a dissertation at Vanderbilt University. He spent much of that time pouring over archives of state Southern Baptist newspapers on microfilm at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archive in Nashville.

Smith's articles have appeared in such publications as “Perspectives in Religious Studies," "Baptist History and Heritage" and "Tennessee Baptist History."

"Fundamentalism, Fundraising, and the Transformation of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1919–1925" is available through The University of Tennessee Press and at book retailers such as Amazon.com.