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"Sometime after Northrup's series appeared in The Standard, T.T. Eaton ran in Kentucky's Western Recorder a series of critical replies to Northrup from the able Presbyterian pen of Dr. Robert Watts, past Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and then Professor of Systematic Theology at The General Assembly's College at Belfast."

Ok, this blows my mind. Seriously? A Presbyterian? Now we have come full circle. :o)

peter lumpkins


Check out Footnote #3 :^)


Yeah, I gotta remember to read the footnotes. :o)

"Could not T.T. Eaton find a single critic at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to take Northrup on rather than turning to a Presbyterian in Ireland to rebut the Chicago president? With the seminary faculty a stone's throw from his Walnut Street office, why publsih in a Baptist denominational paper criticisms from a Presbyterian Calvinist rather than a Baptist Calvinist?"

Very good question especially in that day and time.

BTW: Walnut Street Baptist holds a special place in my heart from childhood.

peter lumpkins

Walnut Street was a very influential, thriving church when I first lived in Louisville beginning in 1979. I think W. DeHoney was then Senior Pastor.

Ben Stratton


Interesting article. As you know Eaton was a strong landmark Baptist and the leader of the anti-Whitsitt forces during the Whitsitt controversy. He rejected alien immersion and the concept of the universal invisible church and believed strongly in Baptist perpetuity. So the fact that he used Watt's articles is not due to any covert love of Presbyterianism. As to why he used Watts and not Broadus or Kerfoot, I would put forth two guesses:

1. The relationship between Eaton and the Seminary was always tense, even before the Whitsitt controversy. Eaton was actually one of the more moderate Landmarkers in Kentucky. The more radical landmarkers regularly attacked the school. While Eaton was a trustee, he was also looked upon with suspicion at times due to his landmark theology. This is a possible factor.

2. However I would say the main reason was Eaton believed Watts was the best man to write on the subject. Since the issue was not realated to ecclesiology, Eaton didn't have a problem using a Pedobaptist author.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. I look forward to reading part two.

peter lumpkins


Thanks for the insight into possible reasons Eaton didn't seek SBTS assistance. I was aware of his Landmark leanings but frankly didn't connect the dots with the Whitsitt controversy and tensions with SBTS rooted, in part at least, in ousting the president. Do you have any files from the Western Recorder during Eaton's tenure? If so, I'd love to pursue gaining access somehow, especially if you have digital files.

As for your suggestion that since the theme of Northrup's series and Watts' subsequent rebuttals were not ecclesial in nature, and consequently Eaton perhaps not having a problem using a Pedobaptist author I find harder to accept as a possible reason for Watts' presence in the Recorder. If, as you suggest, Eaton was a thorough-going Landmarker--albeit a "more moderate" Landmark advocate given Kentucky standards--who rejected alien immersion, the universal invisible church, and strongly embraced Baptist perpetuity, it seems to me surreal at best to imagine Eaton making a hard-line distinction between ecclesiology and soteriology so far as allowing a baby-baptizing member of what he considered to be a non-church institution the equivalent of a pulpit to authoritatively speak on God's Word. Of course, I'm also guessing along with you, brother. It would be an interesting pursuit--though perhaps trivial pursuit--to historically query whether Eaton (or even another strong Landmark adhering editor/author) made an exception with Watts or whether Watts sorta constituted a "rule" of thumb he practiced in dealing with other non-ecclesial issues per se.

Thanks again, brother.

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