Benajah Harvey Carroll Boosts the Southern Baptists

Benajah Harvey Carroll was born on December 27, 1843, in Mississippi, USA as one of 12 children.

Even though his father was a Baptist minister, supporting his family as a farmer, young Carroll was “a dedicated infidel”.

He moved with his family to Arkansas in 1848 and Texas in 1858. He entered Baylor University at age 16 and when the American Civil War began, he joined the Texas Rangers. In 1862 he joined the Confederate for the duration of the war.

He struggled with scepticism which yielded to faith when he was 22. Some friends dared him to attend an old-fashioned Methodist camp meeting, and there it was he met the Saviour.

In November, 1866, he was ordained to preach the gospel, and that same year he married Ellen Virginia Bell who bore him nine children.

At the age of 28, in conjunction with his pastoral duties, he was lecturing theological students at a nearby Baptist University. However things were tough for young Carroll, as he had war debts to pay off and his ministry was to small churches. He spent several years as a school teacher, paying off his debts.

From 1870 to 1899 he pastored First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, but throughout that time he was devoted to higher education. He taught theology at Baylor University and later organised the Baylor Theological Seminary (1905).

In 1899, following the death of his first wife, he married again, to Hallie Harrison, who bore him a son.

In his 60’s he founded the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1908) and became its first president, which office he held until his death.

This 6’4″ man of God, with flowing white beard and a powerful voice, was said to resemble an ancient prophet. He would read and remember 300 pages every day, and 33 volumes came from his pen.

“When you hear this silly talk that the Bible ‘contains’ the Word of God, and is not the Word of God, you hear a fool’s talk,” he wrote. “I don’t care if he is a Doctor of Divinity, a president of a University covered with medals … it is fool talk. There can be no inspiration of the book without the words of the book” (Baptists and the Bible”, page 309). As a result of his dynamic evangelical leadership the Southern Baptist movement grew to be one of Christendom’s great soul-winning denominations.

B.H. Carroll died on 11 November, 1914.

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Archibald Thomas Robertson the Baptist Scholar

Archibald Thomas Robertson was born in Virginia, USA, on November 6, 1863.

At the time of his birth the American Civil War was already turning against the South, and so Robertson’s family suffered the loss of most of their fortune through the war. The Reconstruction had devastating effect on the family’s fortunes, so AT’s father, who had been a country doctor and a plantation owner, took his family to work on a small farm in Statesville, North Carolina.

Robertson was a preaching scholar, enjoying both his study and his time in the pulpit.

In the early 1900’s Robertson was a founding member of the Baptist World Congress now known as The Baptist World Alliance.

This Southern Baptist scholar is remembered especially for his Harmony of the New Testament.

Altogether he wrote 45 books, each displaying a scholarly grasp of theology.

His biographer tells us that “Dr Bob”, as he was affectionately called, “wore out a dozen Greek Testaments in his lifetime” (page 125).

In 1914 his ministry was also broadened through a series of summer Bible conferences with D.L. Moody and F.B. Meyer, introducing Robertson to thousands of pastors and layman alike.

W.R. Moody – son of the famous evangelist – invited Robertson to speak at the Northfield Conference … sharing the platform with such men as Dr R.A. Torrey and Campbell Morgan.

Concerning liberal theology with its downgrading of Scripture. “his arrows were swift and deadly” against it (Baptists and the Bible, page 303).

Nevertheless, he did accept Theistic evolution (Biography, page 181), nor would he be dogmatic concerning millennial views (page 187).

On Monday, 24 September, 1934, he was lecturing in the Southern Baptist Seminary, Kentucky, when he became ill and unable to continue, due to a stroke. He was taken home, and entered the presence of his Lord before the day was through.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.