Not All History is Boring: Southern Seminary

Over the past fifteen months, I’ve had the privilege of working on an overview history of the seminary I attend, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the seminary was founded in 1859. It’s one of the oldest seminaries in the world and has quite an interesting story behind it. Founded in doctrinal conservatism, the school sagged into liberalism in the twentieth century. The original vision of the school’s founders was only recently restored. In the 1980s and 90s Southern Baptist conservatives fought and defeated denominational liberalism and guided the seminaries, once nurseries for heresy, back to biblical fidelity.

The site is found here: archives.sbts.edu. Click on “The History of the SBTS” to see the content I authored. I’m sharing all this both because it’s a fun site and because, well, I wrote most of it. With the archivist here, Jason Fowler, we culled together writing and photographs that we think tell eloquently the story of Southern Seminary. I would encourage Consumed readers to check out the site for themselves and thus learn about the seminary.

Here’s a paragraph from the overview: “Southern encountered its first major controversy in 1879, when professor Crawford Howell Toy came under fire for his views. Toy was brilliant. He completed the seminary course in one year and pursued advanced studies in Berlin for additional years. He became Southern’s fifth professor in 1869. Toy initially professed firm belief in biblical truth, declaring in his inaugural address that without the Bible, man is “on a boundless ocean, wrapped in darkness.” (1) But Toy embraced Darwinian evolution and naturalistic “higher criticism” of the Old Testament. He became convinced that Scripture contained error, science trumped Scripture’s plain meaning, and conscience was the test of truth. The orthodoxy Toy claimed stood in stark contrast to the false interpretations he believed.”

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