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A Braided River

New Zealand Baptists and Public Issues 1882-2000

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John Tucker

As both dissenters and evangelicals, Baptists have had an intriguing and often complex relationship with society. This book casts light on that relationship by tracing the history of Baptist involvement in public debate within New Zealand. It analyses ten significant public debates to have occurred since the 1880s, comparing the Baptist contribution with that of other denominations. By showing how Baptist approaches to public issues have changed over time, this study provides significant insights into the evolving nature of Baptist identity. It argues that evangelical theology fundamentally shaped the Baptist movement’s engagement in public debate. On the other hand, it also shows how Baptist involvement was influenced by the interaction of various theological ideas and a changing social environment. A particular feature of this book is the way it places the story within a wider transnational context, highlighting early English influence on the New Zealand Baptist movement and the growing impact of North American Baptist models of church in the latter half of the twentieth century.