Book Review: “Real Churches or a Fog” by S.E. Anderson

Book Review

Real Churches or a Fog By Stanley Edwin Anderson


As a student in Chicago, it was my privilege to live in the same building with Dr. S. E. Anderson, who was also one of my instructors.  Imagine being able to walk up two flights of stairs and ask the teacher questions at almost any hour!  A few years later, when Dr. Anderson published his excellent work titled Real Churches or a Fog?, designed to rebut the “universal impossible church” notion, he was so gracious as to ask a young man to proof the body of the original manuscript and write an introduction!  My, what a joy! 

Dr. S.E. Anderson (1900-1977) was born in Minnesota and as a young man pastored a Congregationalist Church there.  Deciding he needed more education, he moved to Jackson, Tennessee to attend Union University.  There he studied under such staunch Baptists as George Savage and I.N. Penick and was a student with Kentucky Baptists like J.D. Grey, Joe T.Odle, and Frank Carlton. At first the Landmark Baptist views of these men amused him, but he soon found himself agreeing with them.  He submitted to scriptural baptism and ordination. After graduation he pastored Baptist churches in Tennessee, Washington, Oregon and Illinois and served as a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II.  After the war he earned his doctorate at the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago and thereafter was invited to join the faculty.

His work on John, “The First Baptist,” was one of the first of his writings this reviewer saw. Reading it and J. R. Graves’ “John’s Baptism” strengthened convictions already held and led to a message, now preached many times, from Mt. 3:13-17 titled “Exactly Like Jesus.”  Before that, Bro. O. C. Markham had introduced “Your Baptism is Important” (also available in Spanish) to the student body at Mayfield.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Dr. Anderson was invited to be a guest speaker at Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College in Mayfield on three separate occasions, speaking at an Alumni Bible Conference held at Northside Baptist Church in Mayfield on one of those times.  His message from I Chronicles 12, on “Qualities we Need in God’s Service,” made a lasting impact on this reviewer.  Dr. Anderson was not a “forceful” speaker, but his convictions were deeply held.

This is a very positive work about local, visible congregations as the “true church,” rather than some nebulous “fog” unseen, wafted through the air of compromise.  For Dr. Anderson saw the essence of the “universal” idea; it compromises true churches!  Baptists would do well to invest in this work, at once scholarly and sound (a rare combination!), and to absorb and transmit its information to our Protestant as well as Catholic friends and any others seeking God’s truth on New Testament views of  “the church.”   

Dr. S.E. Anderson authored 13 books, most of which deal with ecclesiology.  All of them are worth reading.  “Real Churches or a Fog can be ordered from Bogard Press ( or 1-800-264-2482) for the low price of $4.95.  

Reviewed by Charles Blair, pastor of the Poplar Grove Baptist Church, Hickman, Kentucky