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12-12-2005


Early’s “Power Struggle”

 


Dr. Joe Early, Jr.

Williamsburg, Ky. - Dr. Joe Early, Jr.’s latest book, “A Texas Baptist Power Struggle: The Hayden Controversy,” released the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2005, examines the first major struggle that occurred during the founding of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Before the organization could settle into a routine, Samuel Augustus Hayden caused momentous unrest by attempting to take over the BGCT. The attempt failed and he was expelled from the organization. He created a rival body, which he called the Baptist Missionary Association.

The struggle continued with lots of mud slinging from both sides. Hayden accused his enemies of crimes such as embezzlement, heresy, and they in turn accused him of being insane, a heretic, and a liar. The unrest among Texas Baptists culminated in a scuffle between Hayden and James Britton Cranfill, a leading member of the BGCT, on a train bound for the Southern Baptist Convention.

This book has garnered much attention on a large scale, and not only in Texas. Early said that the reason the book has gotten so much acclaim is because, “the situation occurring among Texas Baptists today, echoes what happened in the past with the Hayden controversy.”

Writing the book was an interesting experience for Early, because he has friends in both the BGCT and the BMA, and there was much attention from them to see which side of the argument he would favor.

Early said, “I didn’t favor either side because a historian has to stand back and be objective. There is some interpretation mixed in with the history, but I didn’t make any judgment calls.”

Early, who is currently employed as an assistant professor of religion at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., served as a visiting assistant professor of religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas before coming to Cumberland. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of the Cumberlands in 1993, a Master of Divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., in 1998, and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2002.

Early’s other books in print include “A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook,” “A Handbook of Texas Baptist Biography,” “A Student’s Guide to the New Testament,” “A Student’s Guide to the Old Testament,” and “The Building of a Church.” A seventh book, “Religious Life in Austin’s Colony,” is due from Early in late 2006. These books, as well as his latest release, are available for purchase at www.baptisthistorybooks.com Early has also published articles in scholarly journals and has presented papers at several historical societies around the United States.