March 26, 2006
Speaking on Baptist History, Dr. Jerry Faught noted a common theme as he began a recent chapel address as part of Oklahoma Baptist University’s stained glass series.
“Two documents explain the meaning of the symbols in this window, and every symbol represents a famous man; they are all white, and they all have facial hair. I should title my address, ‘White Men with Beards,’” said Faught, OBU’s Dickinson associate professor of religion, referencing Raley Chapel’s Baptist History window.
Noting it is not entirely clear what every image in the window symbolizes, Faught presented several ideas as to what the images may represent. He cited two documents, a pamphlet about Raley Chapel and the designer’s original autograph, as well as forming his own conclusions that veered from traditional view.
“The Christian faith is best served when men and women lock arms and walk together,” said Faught, emphasizing awareness of the many women who are contributors to Baptist heritage.
The image of a dove adorns the very top of the window, crowning an illustration of a column with a rope which may refer to John Bunyan.
Flames may point to Peter of Bruys, a wandering preacher who was put to death in 1130 because he did not agree with many Christian beliefs of the time, including transubstantiation, relics and the Old Testament covenant. Faught suggested the flames also could refer to other early church martyrs.
Peter Waldo and the Waldensians, a 13th century anti-churchly sect, are symbolized by money bags. The money bags were chosen because the Waldensians gave up there possessions voluntarily, and money bags would be an apt symbol for the Fransiscans as well. Like the Waldensians, they held to voluntary poverty.
Faught pointed out the images of a cross, a key, and a tiara which may represent Arnold of Brescia and the Arnoldists, a group which believed bishops and priests who owned possessions could not be saved and that the Catholic Church had become so corrupt that it could no longer be considered the true church.
A depiction of praying hands is thought to indicate Roger Williams, who founded the first Baptist church in America in 1638. Faught suggested the praying hands also may point to Katharine Scott, whose witness led directly to the formation of that church when she encouraged the puritan Williams to make a public profession of his Baptist views.
The Star of David, the Greek cross, St. John’s cross, and the papal cross all appear surrounding the praying hands.
At the base of the fourth panel of the window in an illustration of books which may represent John Broadus, a distinguished scholar and one of the original faculty members of Southern Seminary. However, Faught proposed that the books can also be seen to indicate Charlotte Diggs “Lottie” Moon, who decided to become a missionary in China after hearing Broadus speak.
The image of a church steeple, which can be seen near the bottom of the window, may represent First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Faught pointed out the church’s significance, not only because it was once the largest Baptist church in the world, but because it was founded by a woman named Lucinda Williams in 1868.
John Wycliffe, a leader of the reformation, Anabaptist Balthasar Hubmeir, and Menno Simons, leader of the Mennonites, are thought to be represented by a monk, a red Bible with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega emblazoned on it, a sword, and a rack.
Barely visible, at the very bottom of the window, the top of Raley Chapel can be seen.