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Folklore: Lying Baptists and truth-telling Baptist

Jim Dixon 23 Aug 14 - 07:12 PM
LadyJean 23 Aug 14 - 08:00 PM
Janie 24 Aug 14 - 06:26 AM
Nigel Parsons 24 Aug 14 - 12:26 PM
Mo the caller 24 Aug 14 - 05:35 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Lying Baptists and truth-telling Baptist
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Aug 14 - 07:12 PM

I vaguely remember hearing some version of this story long ago, during my childhood, probably told by the minister of my home church in St. Louis, MO. I haven't thought of it in years, but today for some reason I did, and I decided to check whether it was true, or failing that, at least find its origin. I'm still not sure, but at least I found the story in an apparently credible history book:

From A History of Kentucky Baptists: From 1769 to 1885 ..., Volume 1 by John H. Spencer and Burrilla B. Spencer (Cincinnati: J. R. Baumes, 1885), page 355-6:
Long Run church is located on the eastern border of Jefferson county, about 18 miles from Louisville, and near a small tributary, of Floyds Fork, from which tributary it derives its name. According to the best authorities, it was constituted in 1797.... In 1804, at a log-rolling in the neighborhood, the question as to whether or not a man would be justifiable in telling a falsehood, under any circumstances, was sprung. This illustration was proposed:

"Suppose a man has five children. The Indians come and kill four of them, the fifth one being hidden near by. The savages then ask the father if he has another child. Would he be justifiable in telling them that he had not?"

The dispute grew warm. Some members of the church engaged in it. It finally got into Long Run church, and split it. The "lying party" moved three or four miles west, and were constituted "Flat Rock church" of seven members, the first Monday in March, 1805.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lying Baptists and truth-telling Baptist
From: LadyJean
Date: 23 Aug 14 - 08:00 PM

My 7 or 8 generations back grandfather, the Reverend Alexander Porter was a Presbyterian Minister in Abbeville SC unitl 1808, when the church split over slavery. He and the rest of the anti slavery faction moved to Fairhaven Ohio. (A wides spot in the road just north of Cincinnatti.) Some years later there was a discussion in the Fairhaven church over whether or not they should have a pump organ to play for services. They split once again, only this time the pump organ faction moved a few miles down the road.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lying Baptists and truth-telling Baptist
From: Janie
Date: 24 Aug 14 - 06:26 AM

I'd say it's pretty plausible, Jim. The old Baptists of Kentucky (Separate/Old Regular/United) have long kept very good records and taken careful minutes of their association meetings. My grandfather was the secretary for his Association for many, many years, and I have a small collection of some of the little booklets they published each quarter documenting the proceedings of the Association meetings, including decisions to split or excommunicate congregations over all manner of disagreements, including using musical instruments or installing a PA system.   In my experience that book is well researched and accurate in it's history. I've used it in the course of genealogical research.

I can imagine such a question would stir passionate debate and dissension. I"m gonna bet more than one church split over it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lying Baptists and truth-telling Baptist
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 24 Aug 14 - 12:26 PM

"Suppose a man has five children. The Indians come and kill four of them, the fifth one being hidden near by. The savages then ask the father if he has another child. Would he be justifiable in telling them that he had not?"
For those who insist that truth is an absolute, the question should never arise, as the father has a third option of not responding, albeit at the risk of his own life.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lying Baptists and truth-telling Baptist
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Aug 14 - 05:35 PM

That option would be the same as a Yes, because if he had none there would be nothing to stop him answering.


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