Through 'Jesus only': J. K. Archer, public theology, and Baptist identity in Aotearoa New Zealand

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John Kendrick Archer (1865-1949) was a New Zealand Baptist minister and politician who served an active ministerial and political career within the Baptist Union of New Zealand and New Zealand Labour Party. Despite his enigmatic and unique blend of political and pastoral offices—serving in various English and New Zealand Baptist pastorates, as president of both the Baptist Union of New Zealand and the New Zealand Labour Party, three-term Mayor of Christchurch, and appointed member of the Legislative Council—Archer remains an underexamined figure within both the religious and political history of New Zealand and in wider Baptist studies. This article examines the first decade of Archer’s time in New Zealand where he emigrated from England, draws together an analysis of the social and political currents which shaped his context, examines his own turbulent career within the years of World War I, and offers a reading of a selection of Archer’s preaching and other addresses. I argue that the period between two sermons delivered to the Assembly of Baptist Union of New Zealand—“Jesus Only” in 1910 and “Covetousness” in 1918—represents a maturing and crystallising of Archer’s public theological vision which he pursued with force into his later years. Finally, I conclude by setting this analysis of Archer within a paradigm of public theology in order to offer insights for the field of Baptist studies and theology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages12
JournalPacific Journal of Theological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


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