William Joseph McGlothlin (1876-1933) was longtime Professor of Church History at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary before becoming President of Furman University in Greenville, SC in 1919.1 Educated at several institutions, including Southern seminary, studying theology under James P. Boyce's successor, F.H. Kerfoot, McGlothlin finally earned a PhD from the University of Berlin in 1902. He remains among Southern Baptists' most esteemed historians.
Below is an excerpt from his text on Baptist confessions of faith, an excerpt containing his description of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, the confession used in formulating Southern Baptists' first convention-wide confession adopted in 1925.
The only Confession of any note produced by American Calvinistic Baptists is the so-called “New Hampshire Confession of Faith.” Indeed, it is doubtful if it ought to be called Calvinistic, since it is non-committal on every point of difference between the Calvinistic and Arminian systems. It is brief and very moderately Calvinistic. It emanated from the region where Arminian influences among American Baptists have always been strongest, and it faithfully reflects the modifying tendency of their presence. It is perhaps the most widely used and influential statement of doctrine among American Baptists at the present time. Its origin explains its name.
(Baptist Confessions of Faith, AMERICAN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY, 1911. p.224)
Since the Philadelphia Confession of Faith (virtually identical to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith) and Southern's Abstract of Principles2 were completely overlooked in forging Southern Baptists' first, convention-wide confession of faith in 1925, the committee and convention looking instead to a confessional model which McGlothlin described as "non-committal on every point of difference between the Calvinistic and Arminian systems" and thus "doubtful if it ought to be called Calvinistic," is it not reasonable to assume the Southern Baptist Convention consciously took a public and definitive step away from the strict Calvinism of the 19th century?
Not that they were either hostile toward or unappreciative of their rich Calvinistic past, a past beginning with Boyce, Manley, and Williams at Southern, for example. Rather in stepping away from high Calvinism, the 1925 convention merely reflected who Southern Baptists had become--a massive river of Baptist believers and churches that had virtually absorbed the strictly Calvinistic tributaries of the past into the mainstream of its mighty current.
With the public confession of 1925, Sandy Creek Separates apparently had swallowed whole the Charleston tradition.
1bio source for this post may be accessed at Furman University
2both confessions are highly publicized and supported by contemporary Baptist Calvinists