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James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman (American Reformed Biographies) Hardcover – June 1, 2009
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"A masterpiece, combining keen insights with a definitive historical account. Boyce was a great Christian leader, statesman, preacher, and educator. Now, in this fine biography, we find even more reason to thank God for him." --R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president, South Baptist Theological Seminary
"Dr. Nettles' new study of Boyce's life well captures the theological and social challenges that faced Boyce and his colleagues in their endeavors to establish a solid theological school modeled after that of Old Princeton and the way in which, by the grace of God and to the glory of God, they triumphed." --Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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Nettle's book is characterized by painstaking scholarship. It is well written and thoroughly researched. James Petigru Boyce studied at Princeton Seminary during the last years of both Archibald Alexander and Samuel Miller. While deeply thankful for his education at Princeton, Boyce greatly desired to begin a seminary that would serve the newly formed Southern Baptist Convention and that would educate men for the ministry from a distinctively Southern Baptist perspective. Boyce sought to learn from "Old Princeton" without shaping the new seminary after "Old Princeton." His accommodation to Baptist practices and polity are revealed most clearly by the fact that while the seminary offered a full three year degree, men who studied there had the liberty to take as many or as few courses as they liked. The rationale behind this was that, on the one hand, some men were gifted for the ministry who did not have the faculties for courses such as Greek and Hebrew and Latin Theology. On the other hand, the flexibility of the curriculum reflected complaints from the Baptist convention against curtailing their "liberty" through imposing standards for ministerial education.Read more ›
From a scholarly point of view, this book is a goldmine. Nearly every other sentence is a primary source quote. The man, James P. Boyce, was a high-class gentleman of South Carolina. His father was a wealthy investor and J.P. Boyce himself was an avid reader with a kind heart and a love for the Gospel. He was saved in college and immediately wanted part in evangelism. He worked at a newspaper for some time, went to Princeton Theological Seminary, pastored for a brief period, became a professor, and finally worked extremely hard to establish The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Much of the source material used in compiling the book was from his best friend and co-laborer, John A. Broadus. Nettles spends a considerable time explaining all of the surrounding events of Boyce's life. He tells of Boyce's family history, the history of the church Boyce was raised in, and names what seems like every single person Boyce ever had contact with.
There are good aspects and bad aspects of this wealth of material. The good is that very little of the book is Nettles' personal interpretation of history. Also, since many people don't know much about Baptist history or figures of Baptist history (with the great exception being Spurgeon), this gives an understanding of the context in which Boyce lived. The bad part of this is that one can become bogged down with a lot of information that is not necessary.
This brings me to the second part of my review.Read more ›