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An Association Of ‘Others’

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Chapter Summary

The Associational Principle, a crucial component of Baptist fellowship, has been more than a tool of denominational affiliation. In a world of Alterity (?Otherness'), where Baptists were seen as the ?Other,' associations were emblematic as a foundation for democratization, identity, and fellowship. H.-G. Heimbrock has reminded those who study with him that "religious phenomena can be seen therefore, as expressions of difference, of wonder, and of transcendence." This chapter suggests that "Alterity" has mattered even more for Black Baptists, and hence the functioning of Associations have always been important for identity, as Baptists and as ?Others.' The relation of the ?other' in the religious and racial milieu of America is uniquely present in the syncretic religious life of African Americans. The issues of polity and association in Baptist denominations are a snapshot of the struggle with democratization and the ?Other' in American history.

Keywords: Alterity; Associational Principle; Baptist fellowship; denominational affiliation; H.-G. Heimbrock; religious phenomena



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