As a student of American history, I’ve long been intrigued by the massive carnage of the American Civil War, and have wondered whom to blame for this most devastating event. The answer, as I’m finding now in a new book called “America’s Great Debate”(by Fergus M. Bordewich; Simon and Schuster, 2012), lies with a number of rabid politicians from both the South and the North, who for decades tried to shout each other down and fought against anyone proposing anything remotely looking like a compromise.
I’m not sure why I needed to fix the blame for this, to have someone identifiable before whose doorstep we could lay this. One would like to think that modern political leaders would learn important lessons in the failures of their predecessors–that failing to deal with the tough issues and handing them off to the next generation is abject dereliction of duty.
On these pages, as I have railed against the practice of deacons ruling the church and bossing the pastors–a practice not even remotely suggested by anything in Scripture–I’ve wondered where it all started.
Now we know.
It has not been a secret, although it has been pretty much unknown. Howard B. Foshee covered this in his 1968 book, “The Ministry of the Deacon,” published by Convention Press. For a generation, his book was the standard for Southern Baptists wanting to know how to organize and train their church’s deacon groups.
In a chapter chronicling “Evolving Concepts of Deacon Service,” Dr. Foshee identifies the smoking gun.