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A Memory of H. Boyce Taylor
By Victor I. Masters, 1939
     Dr. W. C. TAYLOR in a recent letter to us enclosed a clipping from News and Truths of an issue of more than eighteen years ago. The News and Truths was published for a long time by Dr. H. Boyce Taylor from Murray, Ky.

     The clipping was in regard to the coming to his post of the present Editor of the Western Recorder. Dr. Taylor wrote:

Brother V. I. Masters has been elected to succeed Dr. Porter and has accepted to begin February 1 [1921]. In our judgment for spiciness and versatility and editorial ability he has not an equal in the South.

     Brother Boyce Taylor expressed his views freely in News and Truths, and these were not in every case parallel to those held by some of his brethren. These views represented his own convictions on doctrinal or practical concerns of faith and fellowship. His treatments of great Scripture doctrines were exceptionally able and well reasoned.

     It is a joy after the years that have now passed in this public way to express our appreciation of Dr. Taylor. The coming in of a new editor from another section of the South and more or less formed by its indigenous Baptist outlooks, in the nature of the case was to Kentucky Baptists and to him something of a venture. That News and Truths, an ably edited independent paper, in the hands of an outstanding native Kentucky Baptist, should have received this venture in Baptist editorial service with kindness and sympathy, was a valued contribution to the possible success of the incomer in mediating in his use of the printed page, questions among Kentucky Baptists concerning which he was without intimate knowledge. During the years in which Dr. Taylor continued his paper the Western Recorder performed its fellowship ministry with a grateful sense of good will and understanding on the part of Dr. Taylor.

     Once we said to him:

"In News and Truths you are responsible to God, your own conscience, and your readers. In the Western Recorder I am responsible to God, my conscience, Western Recorder readers, and the General Association of Kentucky Baptists." A smile brightened his face, and he said with flashing eyes, "Yes, that is the difference."
     Whether it be a virtue or weakness, the Western Recorder Editor, who has had the experience of working under direct responsibility to the organized expression of the life of Baptists in the South for more than thirty-five years, has never been tempted in his efforts to foster our organized Baptist life, to controvert, with papers that serve groups of Baptists under an independent ownership. We have always tried to act with the understanding that the expression of independent thought in such papers, while it may in the nature of human imperfections get off of the track in one way or another, always has in it the potentiality of blessing to Baptist organized life in the very freedom with which it can express opinions in the fear of God, free from some limitations that must always be remembered by a paper owned by the denomination and responsible to the rank and file of Baptist through instrumentalities designated by it - limitations inherent in this ownership.

     Under present conditions denominational ownership may be best and most of our people seem to regard it so. The Western Recorder under these conditions enjoyed great freedom in the expression of responsible views of all that relates to treasured Baptist principles, even when such expression could have been interpreted (and thus scotched) as prejudicial to organized denominational policies. This reflects the will of Kentucky Baptists.

     At any rate we are convinced that the freedom of Baptists to express independent views, unrestrained by even the most faultless authority or organization from free exercise, is a thing greatly to be treasured and jealously safeguarded in our spiritual democracy. This editor has never felt restive or aggrieved in reflecting that independent Baptist papers in Kentucky or beyond could in the nature of the case criticise policies of the denomination or its owned-paper with more freedom than it could use with them. We have never once controverted with such papers, nor resented their freedom in utterance, or even criticism. If the criticism is well grounded, the organization may and not seldom does profit by it. If it is not warranted, the right organization course is to conduct ourselves with such blamelessness that the rank and file of our people will see that we are blameless.

     Does not the Spirit of Christ require this? At least such has been our assumption and course. And such has been the judgment and spirit of the friends of organized Baptist work in Kentucky ever since the present Western Recorder staff has served them. One treasured result has been that our fellowship has been steadily builded, and, though we still have problems, no threatening root of bitterness now exists among us.

     In closing we bear our witness that there is not a more fully indoctrinated group of Baptists, or one more passionately devoted to obedience to the Word of God at every point in Kentucky or in America than the Baptists of West Kentucky. And a large part of their enviable position is beyond doubt attributable of the long, faithful preaching: and Bible teaching of Dr. H. Boyce Taylor.


[From the Western Recorder, V. I. Masters, editor, June 22, 1939. p. 8.]


      The following is added about Taylor from another publication:
      The sessions of the sixty-fifth anniversary [of the Kentucky Baptist General Association] were held at London, commencing June 11, 1902. The annual sermon was preached by Rev. H. B. Taylor, of Murray, from the words "Have Faith in God."

[From American Baptist Yearbook, by American Baptist Publication Society, 1903. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]