128 History of Wake Forest College
Poteat. If any were not convinced, and there were such, the address
had completely disarmed them. Poteat had fenced so well that there
was nothing they could venture to
attack.3
For President Poteat himself the address was a personal triumph,
and won him wide
recognition.4
On the other hand, although Poteat's position was unassailable, and
his confession so fundamentally sound that it might have been
adopted by Baptists who were the most uncompromising contenders
for the faith once delivered to the saints, yet it did not bring peace. It
was not a speech of conciliation, but rather of belligerency. The
opposition were defeated, not utterly routed; silenced for the time but
ready to speak again at their own time.
The turmoil was to continue for four years longer. Without delay
the opposition set about marshaling their forces. No one knew at what
Convention they might bring the matter up for consideration again, or
what motion the Convention would be called on to consider. The
meetings of the Convention were awaited with much anxiety. Both
sides were present in great numbers at these meetings, ready for a
show-down fight if need be. As it turned out such a fight never came.
No motion condemning Poteat and evolution was ever presented to
the Convention. All this time, however, those who were not satisfied
with the result at Winston-Salem were working on a program of their
own.
And here a word of caution should be spoken. These men were
―――――――
3 The address was printed in the Biblical Recorder of January 3, 1923, and by the
order of the Convention in a pamphlet.
4 Dr. Edwin Mims, in his The Advancing South, published in 1926, makes Dr.
Poteat an exponent of the progressive thought and religious life of his section; he
praises in particular his lectures at Chapel Hill in 1925, afterwards published in the
volume, Can a Man Be a Christian Today? and towards the end of his book devotes
six pages to a discussion of it, making considerable quotations from it. See pages
14-16, 21, 76, 214, 305-310. With reference to the Convention address he says:
"And sometimes they see the glory of the coming of the Lord as men unsheathe
their swords or give forth the call of the bugle ... a Poteat speaking to a Baptist
Convention assembled to condemn his views on evolution and leaving them so
overwhelmed with his sincerity and his spiritual insight that no one dares to speak
against him."
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