Baptists and the American Civil War: October 9, 1862

Civil War States MapFollowing a string of prior Northern Baptist resolutions supporting U.S. President Abraham Lincoln‘s recent Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Ohio Baptists, assembled at their annual state convention this month, offer their own resolution.

“Whereas the powers that be are ordained of God, and he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God,” and is threatened with damnation: therefore, be it

Resolved, 1. That it is our right and duty, as a body of Christian citizens, in these times of rebellion against our beneficent Government, to tender our hearty sympathy and support to those who are intrusted with it.

Resolved, 2. That we will accord a cheerful and earnest support to our rulers and our armies in their endeavors to crush the wicked rebellion, until that object shall be accomplished and peace and order restored; and that we will offer up our prayers and supplications daily to the sovereign Disposer of events for his interposition in this behalf.

Resolved, 3. That since the present terrible civil war was begun by our enemies, without any just cause or provocation, for the purpose of extending, strengthening, and perpetuating the wicked institution of slavery, against the moral sense of the civilized world, and though in the beginning we had no intention of interfering with the institutions of the rebellious States, yet the progress of the war clearly indicates the purpose of God to be the summary extinction of slavery, therefore we approve the late proclamation of liberty of our President, and we will sustain him in carrying out that proclamation till our beloved country shall be purged of the accursed blot, both the cause of the war and the chief means in our enemy’s hands of carrying it on, and will stand by our country in the adoption of such further measures as may be necessary to put an end to this great rebellion.

Left unaddressed is the scope of the applicability of God’s sovereign designs over nations. The possibility that the God who ordains the “powers that be” may have ordained both the United States and the Confederate States government, despite their polar opposite positions on slavery, liberty and freedom, is simply not entertained.

Regardless, the seemingly constant stream of Northern Baptist resolutions in support of Lincoln and emancipation help prepare the Northern public at large for the January 1 implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation, a coming event that many white Northerners — for various reasons, including racism and a belief among some that peace should be made with the Confederacy — yet resist.

Source: Source: B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic, Philadelphia, George W. Childs, 1864, pp. 745 (link)