The Southern Baptist Convention during and after World War II (1939-1948): a theological-critical appraisal
This study maps out the Southern Baptist Convention’s position and role during and after the Second World War. It offers an informed and theological-critical analysis of the thinking, the arguments, the adjudication, the involvement, the challenges and the responses of this influential denomination regarding the Second World War (1939-1945) as well as its engagement with burning issues, such as missions in the post-war era, civil rights, racism and Israel in terms of the political, social and cultural implications of rebuilding a Christian worldview within the context of the “Cold War.” The research relied on a variety of primary sources available in archives, captured on digital platforms and databases. The study comprises 12 chapters. Chapter 1 serves as an orientation and covers The Southern Baptist Convention and the Beginning of the Conflict Overseas 1934-1939. The second chapter contains, after the outbreak of the war in Europe in 1939, the Initial Southern Baptist Convention Reflection of the War 1939-1940. Informed by newspaper articles and its missionaries in the east (China) the SBC sensed a world crisis. This was underpinned by reports on The Jewish Persecution in Europe 1934-1940, which is dealt with in chapter three. The next chapter (chapter four) traces the SBC’s views on Neutrality in a World at War 1940-1941, an American position that ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Chapter five is therefore devoted to America’s Entrance into the War 1941-1942, and how it affected the patriotic SBC. In chapter six The War Continues and the Consequences of Faith 1942 are spelled out in terms of SBC convictions and statements. The seventh chapter covers 1943, when The Southern Baptist Convention Deferred as the War Reaches a Turning Point 1943. Stalingrad fell to the Red Army, and the initiative shifted towards the Allied forces. The Invasion of Europe and the Consequences for Peace Considered by the Southern Baptist Convention 1944 outlines chapter eight. The next (ninth) chapter deals with The Horrors of War and Conclusive Victory 1945 the gruesome consequences of the concentrations camps, as well as the use of the atomic bomb struck the world. The last three chapters cover the years 1945-1948 and are devoted to the way in which The SBC Positions Itself in the Post-war World (chapter 10), The Doors are Opening: Post-War Missionary Efforts (chapter 11) and The Southern Baptist Convention and Civil Rights (chapter 12). In the ultimate Conclusion, the findings of the research are discussed. As an evangelical, patriotic denomination, the SBC positioned itself along two distinctive trajectories of thinking: a traditional-evangelical and a Christian–social line of thinking.