An August Anniversary at the End of July

Yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of James P. Boyce’s delivery of his inaugural address at Furman University, Three Changes in Theological Institutions. We would do well to remember this occasion, because it was one of the most significant events in the history of Baptist higher education.

The changes Boyce proposed to Baptist theological education were monumental. They helped Southern Baptists see the need to provide education for ministers of every educational background, realize the necessity of thoroughly educating aspiring students to be the ministerial educators of the next generation, and ensure the theological integrity of their first seminary through the use of a confession.

In honor of this august anniversary, I ask you to consider this short section from Boyce’s address.

The scriptural qualifications of the ministry do, indeed, involve the idea of knowledge, but that knowledge is not of the sciences, nor of philosophy, nor of the languages, but of God and of His plan of salvation. He who has not this knowledge, though he be learned in all the learning of the schools, is incapable of preaching the word of God. But he who knows it, not superficially, not merely in those plain and simple declarations known to every believing reader, but in its power, as revealed in its precious and sanctifying doctrines, is fitted to bring forth out of his treasury things new and old, and is a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, although he may speak to his hearers in uncouth words or in manifest ignorance of all the sciences. The one belongs to the class of educated Ministers, the other to the Ministry of educated men, and the two things are essentially different.Boyce, James P. An Inaugural Address, Delivered before the Board of Trustees of the Furman University (Greenville, SC: C. J. Elford’s Book and Job Press, 1856), 13.

Join with us today in remembering this important piece of Baptist history, for as John A. Broadus reminds us, “This address by Professor Boyce proved to be epoch-making in the history of theological education among Southern Baptists.”Broadus, John A. Memoir of James Petigru Boyce (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1893), 142. Take time out of your schedule to read this monumental address today.

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