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240 –August 28 – This Day in Baptist History Past

First BC Rockford, IL-First Bldg.

A Worshiper of Facts

How did a Baptist pastor end up memorialized by a Unitarian church? The answer to this question is a vivid illustration of the Apostle’s warning that false teachers could spring from among us. Dr. Thomas Kerr was a medical doctor. In 1860 he became the pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. It seems that his ministry was appreciated, but Dr. Thomas Kerr desiring to expand his world resigned the Rockford pulpit to start a new life in Missouri. It was during this absence that the congregation of First Baptist began to realize how much they missed his brilliant messages, but it was also during this time that Thomas Kerr began to drink deeply from the writings of Darwin. After three years, Dr. Thomas Kerr responded to the call of his former church and returned to pastor in Rockford in 1869. The Rockford paper glowingly pictured Dr. Thomas Kerr as a “worshipper of facts” and celebrated his willingness to embrace other doctrine. On August 28, 1870, Dr. Thomas Kerr preached his resignation message in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church. It is a message filled with blasphemy. Forty-eight members left First Baptist along with Dr. Kerr to join a Unitarian group in order to form a new church. That fall they adopted bylaws, which, according to the records of the Unitarian church, “contained no fundamental dogmas or stated creed.” Dr. Kerr’s message is in pamphlet form as a trophy of the triumph of humanism over historical Christianity. The false teachers who celebrate Kerr’s life ignore the obvious irony: Kerr, the “worshipper of facts” sold his soul to a lie.

 

Dr. Dale R. Hart From: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins pp. 

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