Baptist Fundamentalism in Canada: Future Possibilities

To coincide with the publication of Canadian Baptist Fundamentalism (co-edited with Paul R. Wilson), I put together a blog for the Canadian Baptist Historical Society exploring a few places where future authors could expand on the historiography. My suggestions are by no means exhaustive. The point here is simple: there is a wide-open field to explore, and there are countless topics just waiting for the right person to dive in.

Here is a small section of that post:

One of the most promising and largely-unexplored areas of investigation revolves around the proto- and early-fundamentalist period. The current literature on fundamentalism among Baptists in Canada is focused primarily on T. T. Shields, the influential pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto; however, historians should not so briskly move past the forerunners to the fundamentalist cause. Looking at these figures would provide insight into how the movement’s character developed during these formative years.

In a similar way, very little has been written on the development of the Canadian Baptist fundamentalist movement after the controversies of the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the expressions of fundamentalism continued in some form long after the events described in Canadian Baptist Fundamentalism. There is ample space to explore the second- and third-generation leaders and the turbulent legacies they inherited. Such studies would provide insight into how each group evolved and adapted, even as the Canadian socio-religious landscape changed so significantly in the mid-twentieth century.

There has likewise been a tendency among historians to focus on one or two prominent individuals in each region. Who were the other figures involved? In that same vein, if even secondary players have been overshadowed, the people in the pew have been entirely neglected. Identifying which particular aspects the average church-goer found most appealing or where they disagreed with their pastor would add depth and texture to our understating of the movement overall.

Perhaps the most egregious omission in the historiography relates to the absence of women. Upon a quick overview of the literature, it becomes clear that historians have afforded women very little attention. (In fact, judging from some writings, the casual reader might be forgiven for thinking that several prominent Baptist fundamentalists never even met a woman aside from his own wife!)

To read the rest of the blog, visit the Canadian Baptist Historical Society website here.

*The post on the CBHS website is adapted from the epilogue published in Canadian Baptist Fundamentalism, modified to fit the medium.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: