The dead guys that adorn the top of this blog are men to whom I owe a great debt. Their lives and testimonies have greatly challenged me and their writings have instructed and encouraged me. They served our Lord well in their generations and have left a wonderful legacy for modern Christians–especially modern Baptists. In that regard each of them is a model for modern ministers who are committed to working for the recovery of the Gospel and the reformation of local churches in our day. Following is a brief identification of each man. The descriptions begin with the pictures on the top row and go from left to right.
John Leadley Dagg (1794-1884)
Dagg was the first Southern Baptist theologian to produce a systematic theology. According to Paige Patterson, his Manual of Theology shows “what most Baptists believed during the formative days of the Southern Baptist Convention” and “presents the essence of biblical truth in a thoroughly readable, yet scholarly, presentation.” Plagued with physical difficulties (including blindness, which accounts for the expression in his portrait), Dagg persevered in advocating the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace throughout his lifetime.
William Carey (1761-1834)
Carey is known as the “Father of Modern Missions.” His vision and passion to see the Gospel “preached to the Heathen” was the impetus that led to the formation of the “Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen” in 1792. He also became the society’s first missionary, leaving his native England in 1793, never to return. Sustained by confidence in the absolute sovereignty of God, Carey labored to translate the Scripture into dozens of languages. He waited seven years before seeing the first true convert to Christ. At his instruction, the following epithet was carved into his gravestone: “A wretched, poor, helpless worm, on Thy kind arms I fall.”
John A. Broadus (1827-1895)
Broadus was part of the original faculty when The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary opened its doors in 1858. He originally turned down the position because of his commitment to pastoral ministry but after being persuaded to reconsider he served as professor of New Testament interpretation and homiletics for 36 years. During the Civil War he served for a time as chaplain in Lee’s army of northern Virginia. His On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (1870) remains a classic in homiletics. While traveling in Europe Broadus wrote a letter that was published in the Kentucky state Baptist newspaper. In it he stated, “The people who sneer at what is called Calvinism might as well sneer at Mont Blanc. We are not bound in the least to defend all of Calvin’s opinions or actions, but I do not see how anyone who really understands the Greek of the Apostle Paul, or the Latin of Calvin or Turretin, can fail to see that these latter did but interpret and formulate substantially what the former teachers taught.”
Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
“The Prince of Preachers” who served as a pastor in London from the time he was 20 years old. His sermons remain in print to this day. Spurgeon was a strong defender of the authority of Scripture and the doctrines of sovereign grace. The crowds that thronged to hear him preach forced New Park Street Church to seek larger venues than their own building. Spurgeon repeatedly preached to congregations that numbered more than 10,000 in these borrowed buildings. In 1861 the church moved to the newly built Metropolitan Tabernacle. He is, without doubt, the best known of the Baptist leaders pictured on the blog.
James P. Boyce (1827-1888)
Boyce was the principal founder of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He had the privilege of growing up in First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina whose pastor was Basil Manly, Sr. Through the influence of Frances Wayland, President of Brown University, and Richard Fuller, longtime pastor of Baptist churches in Baltimore, Maryland, Boyce came to Christ as a college student. He served as the 5th president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and held that office 7 years (1872-79, 1888). His Abstract of Systematic Theology is his magnum opus and continues in print today as a staunchly Calvinistic theology textbook.
Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)
Fuller could rightly lay claim to the title of “Grandfather of Modern Missions.” He gave the theological foundation to William Carey’s missionary vision. He, Carey, and a few other Baptist ministers met regularly and prayed for 8 years for the revival of vital Christianity in their day. The Lord answered those prayers beginning in 1792 with the emergence of a fresh wave of missionary compassion. Some today try to paint Fuller as one who stood against Calvinism, but nothing could be further from the truth. He stood against what he called, “false Calvinism” and considered himself an advocate of “true Calvinism.”
Patrick H. Mell (1814-1888)
P. H. Mell served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention for 15 years and was known as the “Prince of Parlimentarians.” He wrote Predestination and the Saints’ Perseverance to “counteract…the tendencies of Arminianism” and to challenge those who “preached doctrines inconsistent with the Doctrines of Grace.” It is a thorough refutation of Arminianism and a forceful presentation of Calvinism. He also preached a sermon on “Calvinism” that was so warmly received by the Georgia Baptists that they called for it to be published.