Oliver Hart and the Rise of Baptist America

ISBN : 9780197506325

Eric C. Smith
348 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Baptists in America began the eighteenth century a small, scattered, often harassed sect in a vast sea of religious options. By the early nineteenth century, they were a unified, powerful, and rapidly-growing denomination, poised to send missionaries to the other side of the world. One of the most influential yet neglected leaders in that transformation was Oliver Hart, longtime pastor of the Charleston Baptist Church. Oliver Hart and the Rise of Baptist America is the first modern biography of Hart, arguably the most important evangelical leader in the pre-Revolutionary South. During his thirty years in Charleston, Hart emerged as the region's most important Baptist denominational architect. His outspoken patriotism forced him to flee Charleston when the British army invaded Charleston in 1780, but he left behind a southern Baptist people forever changed by his energetic ministry. Hart's accommodating stance toward slavery enabled him and the white Baptists who followed him to reach the center of southern society, but also eventually doomed the national Baptist denomination of Hart's dreams. More than a biography, Oliver Hart and the Rise of Baptist America seamlessly intertwines Hart's story with that of eighteenth-century American Baptists, providing one of the most thorough accounts to date of this important and understudied religious group's development. This book makes a significant contribution to the study of Baptist life and evangelicalism in the pre-Revolutionary South and beyond.


1. The humble Baptists: Oliver Hart's Baptist Community
2. The power of religion greatly displayed: Baptists and the Great Awakening
3. All things are become new: Moving to the South
4. Bringing many souls home to Jesus Christ: Moderate Revivalism in Charleston
5. A regular Confederation: Laying the Foundations of the Baptist South
6. Every day brings fresh wonders!: The 1754 Charleston Revival
7. Seals of my ministry: Training the Next Generation
8. Promoting so laudable a Design: Baptist Development in the 1760s
9. Comforts and mercies, losses and crosses: A Transitional Season
10. The rising glory of this continent: The American Revolution
11. Directed in the path of duty: Staying the Course
12. The Baptist Interest: A Respectable Denomination in a New Nation
13. All the Baptists on the Continent: A Dream Briefly Realized


Eric C. Smith is Senior Pastor of Sharon Baptist Church in Savannah, Tennessee, and Adjunct Professor of Historical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the author of Order & Ardor: The Revival Spirituality of Oliver Hart and the Regular Baptists of Eighteenth-Century South Carolina (2018).