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     The following is a small portion written by William H. Whitsitt, President of The Southern Baptist Seminary [1895-1899] at the time, in his "secret diary" concerning his views on baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper as ordinances in Baptist churches. When it was revealed that he held these views, he was eventully removed from his position as President of the SBTS. It was a very contentious issue. Over a hundred years later his "secret diary" was accessible to one writing a biography of Whitsitt. Below is a portion of his views on various Baptist issues, but it does show he was definitely not in the mainstream of Baptist thought and polity. The context for this was a series of revival meetings he was attending in Louisville, KY; he uses the terms "the Baptists" and "they" as if he were no part of them.

William H. Whitsitt
Errant Baptist Professor

"The Secret Diary"

      - In commenting on another of [F. D.] Hale's revival sermons, he [W.H.W] could not suppress his sense of humor:

There was an injunction to unite with the church, to be baptized by immersion and to continue at the Lord's table. I have rarely ever seen it so finely done. Such an amount of skill was not ever displayed in my presence. He almost succeeded in making immersion respectable; he wisely refrained from touching close communion. It would have been disastrous to attempt that feat.... But there was a sensible cooling of the devotional spirit, and the meeting suffered for the occasion. The Baptists, poor silly creatures, had broad smiles on their faces.28

      As the revival continued into February, and on Sundays kept the worshipers at church until 1:30 in the afternoon, Whitsitt wrote in his diary,

The crowd this evening filled aisles and gallery, and the Baptists must receive a position in the respect of the citizens such as they have never held before. I am half disposed to look with better favor upon them, although I can perceive no good reason why they should retain either immersion or strict communion. Still they do retain them, and it would be destructive to say aught against either of them. The time is coming, far off perhaps, when both will be abolished.

Both of them are according to the Apostolic model - at any rate immersion is beyond any question the Apostolic mode - but so are foot washing, the holy kiss, the anointing of the sick with oil and numbers of other items that have fallen into disuse in deference to changes in time & season. Why hold to those when these are rejected?29

      In March he commented on Mr. Hale's sermon advocating close communion:
I did not like it, but as a plea for close communion it was able and skillful. The main error lies in the preposterous literalism which holds fast to immersion, while neglecting many other customs of the apostolic church. The time must inevitably come when the Baptists shall give up the practice of immersion. They will surrender the practice of close communion before that date. To surrender close communion will be a prelude to the surrender of immersion. Neither of them is consistent with other practices of the Baptists; the sooner they can be abolished the better.30


[From James H. Slatton, W. H. Whitsitt: The Man and the Controversy, 2009, pp. 113-4. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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