REVIEWS:  A Capsule History of Baptists by Bruce T. Gourley
Published by Baptist History & Heritage Society


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"Bruce Gourley is a new treasure for the Baptist people. This is the best brief, up-to-date introduction to Baptist history available. It deserves wide usage in local Baptist churches." Walter B. Shurden, Historian and Minister at Large, Mercer University

"Bruce Gourley provides us with a “capsule history” covering four centuries of Baptist witness crafted from a "freedom-centric" perspective. His riveting account is refreshingly accessible. Readers will find especially illuminating Gourley’s interpretation of developments in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. This book is sure to provoke vigorous debate." Neville Callam, General Secretary, Baptist World Alliance

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"Bruce Gourley has the antidote for being a Baptist without knowing what it means to be a Baptist. His small yet amazingly thorough book, A Capsule History of Baptists, is light enough for a casual reading and deep enough to produce a solid understanding of the four-century-old Christian movement that keeps freedom and responsibility at the forefront of faith. All Baptists would do well to read this volume — and do better to read it once every year." John Pierce, Executive Editor, Baptists Today

"This book is brief, but it is one of the introductions to Baptist history in recent years because of this central theme ... Freedom! .... [The] author has done Baptists everywhere a service in helping us not only to understand where we are, but also in encouraging us to get back to the basic Baptist strength of our historical freedoms!" Darold Morgan, Christian Ethics Daily (Summer 2010)

"A Capsule History of Baptists by Bruce T. Gourley is a seamless narrative of the Baptist story. Gourley’s research is excellent and his factual presentation of Baptist history is on target, but what sets his new book apart from most other histories are his colorful and creative writing style, his honest and sometimes painful analysis, his provision of a panoramic snapshot of the global Baptist movement, his fresh take on twenty-first-century Baptists and technology, and his intentional attempt to tell the Baptist story from the bottom up as well as from the top down. Gourley includes the stories of Baptist laypeople, introduces his readers to lesser-known Baptists, moves the Baptist story outside its usual American, southern, white, male confines, and deals head on with racism, sexism, fundamentalism, and consumerism. And the true beauty of A Capsule History of Baptists is that it packs all these features into 128 pages, making this a quick read. But don’t rush through the book. Take your time and enjoy!" Pam Durso, Historian and Executive Director, Baptist Women in Ministry


"Bruce Gourley has penned a masterful, reader-friendly history of Baptists’ first four centuries. Without overlooking perennial tensions in Baptist life — Calvinism v. Arminianism, formal v. spontaneous worship, primitivism v. missionary mindedness, local church autonomy v. connectionalism — Gourley chronicles the pervasive theme  held dear by Baptists: voluntary religion and church-state separation. The book’s first sentence whets the appetite of even a casual reader:


Prison bars and hostile courts on two continents during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries fueled freedom movements unlike any the world had ever known: the liberation of human conscience and separation of church and state.

Unpacking that provocative opening salvo makes for a valuable contribution to the Baptist story and, to the degree Baptists read it, helps to ensure a continuation of the Baptist heritage of freedom for another 400 years." J. Brent Walker, Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty


"In a very readable volume, Gourley provides a valuable resource for individuals, churches and students who could gain much from a clearer understanding of their heritage .... For interested Baptists who want to know more about their story and for church leaders who want to teach important aspects of the Baptist heritage, Gourley's book is an ideal guide to Baptists' first 400 years." Tony Cartledge, Contributing Editor, Baptists Today (July 2010)

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