Monday, January 09, 2006

Name the Dead Guys

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.


David B. Hewitt said...

Thanks, Dr. Ascol. I was wondering who some of those men were. Now I don't have to wonder! :)


Joshua said...

That's an all-star team! Tom, do you have any thoughts on who the line-up may consist of 100 years from now? Who is having the greatest impact today that will benefit our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Surely Piper and MacArthur, but within the SBC, is there anyone that compares to Boyce, Broadus, and Dagg in terms of their impact and commitment to historic, Baptist principles? Praise God for faithful men! May we all emulate their faith.

blake white said...

"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith."

I praise God for raising up leaders such as these men!

David B. Hewitt said...

Many of these guys are also referenced and quoted (especially Spurgeon) in the "Amazing Grace" DVDs that Founders is offering on this site. I just got my copy (thanks for the complimetary copy of Founders Journal #60!) and watched it into the night last night and finished it this evening. It is a SPECTACULAR portrayal of the Doctrines of Grace and how they should impact our evangelism. I heartily recommend them to everyone.

I plan to pass them around in my church, starting with the church staff. May God be glorified, and may His Glory be recovered in its uttermost.

David Hewitt

Tom said...


Great question! Well, as has always been true throughout every era of history, many of the most faithful servants in our day will probably live and labor well and die in obscurity. Their testimonies and records will only be fully known in only in heaven. Given that, there will undoubtedly be some that history will look back on as key leaders in the recovery of the Gospel and the reformation of churches within the SBC.

Men like Adrian Rogers and Paige Patterson will, I think, be recognized as the great champions for the cause of biblical authority within the denomination. Moving beyond inerrancy to a more full-orbed impact for reformation, the man who I see as "top of the list" is Tom Nettles. As Bum Phillips once said of the great running back, Earl Campbell, "I ain't sayin' that he's in a class all by himself, but it sure don't take long to call the roll!" I say that, believing that, by the grace of God, his most useful years are still in front of him.

Al Mohler would also have to be considered as one of the "future great mean of Southern Baptist history." Don Whitney is another, as is Mark Dever.

There are others who certainly could be included, but those four men are being used of God widely to advance the cause of Jesus Christ in our day.

David B. Hewitt said...

Proverbs 27:2 (HCSB) Let another praise you, and not your own mouth--a stranger, and not your own lips.

I heartily agree with the list you gave, Dr. Ascol, but there was a name conspicuously absent from its roster: yours.

As the Proverb I cited indicates, you have done so wisely. However, as it also indicates, another must be allowed to do it, and I am sure I speak for many when I say this:

The ministry you have done in Founders has blessed many, many people, and I'm sure that those who visit this blog on a regular basis count themselves among them.

I've downloaded every copy of the Founders Journal and am (slowly) making my way through them, being blessed by God as I go.

The Amazing Grace DVDs were wonderful and powerful. You and Dr. Nettles did a fine job in them along with the other theologians.

This blog is one of, if not the first, sites I visit each day, often more than once. I have been encouraged, rebuked, and strengthened by the godly wisdom that you have poured into the posts you have made.

Thank God for you, Dr. Ascol. Perhaps your picture will one day adorn that generation's version of a "blog" and people will praise God as they remember His working in your life as you have done with the men pictured in yours.

David Hewitt

Kenan said...

David, you stole my thunder.