Baptists and the American Civil War: November 1, 1865

bible02Today the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Greenville, South Carolina and Southern Baptists’ sole seminary, reopens following the war.

The reopening consists of seven students and the returning founding faculty of four — James Petigru Boyce, John A. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr. and William Williams. The four are uncertain if they can successfully restart the institution, but determined to try their best. Contributing their own monies, taking out loans and seeking funds from local churches, the faculty manages to keep the seminary open year by year until long-term stability gradually takes hold in the 1870s. The institution moves to Louisville, Kentucky in 1877.

The Old School Presbyterian-trained faculty remains a force for strict Calvinism in Southern Baptist life throughout the remainder of the century. The larger influence of Calvinism upon Southern Baptist life, however, dented during a war in which God did not rescue the Confederacy from the North as providence-confident Southern Baptist divines assured their denomination’s masses that God would, never recovers. By the end of the century, Calvinism is no longer the dominant motif in the theological framework of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Sources: Gregory A. Wills, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1859-2009, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 62-64