Article Review on “Daniel Dodge 1777-1851 Baptist Pastor and organizational pioneer”
Waldrop, Jeffrey A. “Daniel Dodge 1777-1851 Baptist pastor and organizational pioneer”
Dr. Jeffrey A. Waldrop is the director of the David Allan Hubbard Library and assistant professor of Church History of Fuller Theological Seminary. His way of presenting the life of Mr. Daniel Dodge and writing the history of the Baptist church in America is extra-ordinary. The writer has picked one of the best characters of history called Daniel Dodge who lived during the growth of Baptists and their struggle for existence and organizational formation. The writer has presented the colonial and post-colonial American Baptist church history by focusing on the life of influential Israelite pastor Daniel Dodge who lived in America, ministered in American, and accomplished his race.
The American Baptists exercised and grew as the free Christians of independent churches after the revolutionary war. That caused the Baptist ministers to work hard as farmers, job holders, and tent makers for survival in the eighteenth century. The writer has provided a brief history of Congregationalist’s adoption of Baptist principles at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the reason for the division of the Baptist denomination as well as its influence over the history of New England and the United States of America.
The writer has presented the details of Mr. Dodge’s early life and his effective ministry in the church of Baltimore, Delaware, Wilmington, New Jersey, Newark, and Philadelphia. Mr. Dodge received the license to preach from the second Baptist Church of Baltimore in 1797. Then, he began to start the preaching ministry in the churches throughout cities, villages, country barns of Maryland and Virginia. The Church leaders expected him to be a full-time minister for the church and Mr. Juden’s complaint about Dodge’s way of preaching outside the church caused the removal from his preaching duties. But he was again asked to attend the church after a few months. Mr. Dodge began his pastoral minister in First Baptist Church in Delaware in 1802 and after joining the Wilmington congregation. He participated in the associational and denominational ministry such as Delaware Baptist Association, Philadelphia association, and Triennial convention.
Mr. Dodge also contributed to music and worship ministry by issuing “A Selection of Hymns and Psalms” which was the combination of many original hymns along with other popular hymns and Psalms. That provided an effective tool for worship and merged the dual existence of hymnal resources in one document. Mr. Dodge served the Wilmington congregation for 20 years with great success and began to minister in First Baptist Church in Piscataway in 1819. At that time, he faced a theological controversy concerning the laying-on of Hands Controversy for nine years, even the Philadelphia association couldn’t solve this problem but many of them compromised and concluded this controversy. Furthermore, there was the re-marriage controversy that troubled the Baptist church for a long time because Mr. Dodge and other church leaders & committee could not address this problem. Finally, Mr. Dodge played a significant role to reconcile and compromise with the disagreeing parties.
While New Jersey Baptists demonstrating their mission methods by the first few decades of the nineteenth century, they formed the missionary society called “The New Jersey Baptist State Convention for Missionary Purposes”. Mr. Dodge became the first president which resulted in the numerical and influential growth of the Baptists in the region. As Daniel’s ministry was growing to the national level, the protestant and Baptists community protested President James Madison’s passed an act of opening the post office on Sundays because many of the workers couldn’t worship that day because of work in the post office. Mr. Dodge also participated in this movement with great zeal.
Mr. Dodge departed from Piscataway to the First Baptist Church of Newark in New Jersey in 1832 and participated in ministerial duties. He continued to serve in the New Jersey Convention where they proposed to establish the general education institution for central New Jersey and planned for seminary. Mr. Dodge also participated in the formation of the American and Foreign Bible Society and they worked together with the American Bible Society to publish a version of the Bible. American Baptists proposed to use the word ‘immersion’ instead of ‘baptism’. The American Bible Society approved funds but disallowed to mention the word ‘immersion’. Then, the Baptist Bible Society raised the fund by themselves and published the Bible. Mr. Dodge resigned from his leadership from Newark and became the fourth pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Philadelphia in late 1838. Though he was physically weak and unable to do the office work he continued serving in the Triennial Convention for several years. Finally, Dodge rested in the Lord at the age of seventy-five in 1851.
The writer has enlightened the concern of Mr. Daniel for spiritual warfare and theological orthodoxy in the church. He has discussed the issue of controversy dealt with by Mr. Dodge and his obligation to solve it according to the given authority and responsibility. The strength of Daniel Dodge to sustain in ministry wasn’t only because of his academic excellence but faith in God that led him always even in the time of great controversies. By studying the article written by Dr. Jeffrey, we can get information about the economic, religious, national, and cultural challenges faced by the Christian ministers and churches during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The content arranged in the article is well managed. The author has used so many important resources to provide sufficient information about the life of Mr. Daniel Dodge. The early life of Dodge, his ministry, challenges, and presentation of the other characters, and their appearance is very informative. The author has tried his best to hide his narrative terms but quoted most of the texts to provide the information according to the context. This may be the strong part of his writing and the evidence of his excellency. The article is fair enough according to the available resource and information.
The writer has missed mentioning the additional information about the musical preparation done by Mr. Dodge in his early life. It seems like Mr. Daniel is suddenly attracted to church music while reading the article. His contribution to music and worship will be surprising for many readers. The author has also allowed the further requirement of proofreading in the article.
Writing the biography of an important person in history is always very challenging because people have a higher expectation for the clear reflection of such a person’s character, attitude, ministry, struggle, and measurement of his/her success. The biography of Mr. Daniel Dodge written by Mr. Jeffrey has become very informative. Many Christian ministers will be highly motivated in ministerial activities even in the time of financial scarcity and difficult circumstances.