James P. Boyce was born
January 11, 1827, in Charleston, S.C., of Mr. and Mrs. Ker Boyce, considered the
wealthiest man in South Carolina. He was of Scot-Irish and Presbyterian descent on his
fathers side, his mothers family being the Johnston family which produced many
lawyers, judges and statesmen in the Carolinas. Charleston was the most cultured American
city of that day, and young Boyce entered the best homes and had the best education
available at Charleston College, Brown University (R.I.) and Princeton Seminary (N.J.)
As a child, the good natured and rotund Boyce was always inclined toward books rather than
athletics. He was raised hearing some of the greatest preachers in America: Basil Manly,
Sr. (under whom Boyces mother was converted and became a Baptist in 1830), Richard
Fuller (whose preaching influenced Boyces conversion while home from Brown) and
James Henley Thornwell, that great Presbyterian preacher and theologian. While a young
man, Boyce once attended a Presbyterian church because he was enamored with a young girl.
However, Boyce recalls that Thornwell preached so powerfully that he was held spellbound
for one hour, forgetting about the girl. Boyce and Thornwell evidently became friends
later during Boyces first pastorate in Columbia, S.C. Boyce was greatly affected by
Thornwells Discourses on Truth published in 1854.
(from Abstract of Systematic Theology,
James P. Boyce)
How came it (the Bible) to be written?
God inspired holy men to write it.
Did they write It exactly as God
Yes; as much as if he had written every word himself.
Oughtn't it, therefore, to be believed
Yes; as much as though God had spoken directly to us.
James P. Boyce
First President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
President, 1872-79, 1888
From A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
Peculiar obligations rest upon those to whom are entrusted the education of the rising Ministry. God in His mercy preserve the instructors from the crime of teaching a single error, however unimportant, and grant unto all our Boards the grace necessary for faithfulness to the trusts devolved upon them, that false doctrine, however trifling, may receive no countenance.
You will infringe the right of no man, and you will secure the rights of those who have established here an instrumentality for the production of a sound ministry. It is no hardship to those who teach here, to be called upon to sign the declaration of their principles, for there are fields of usefulness open elsewhere to every man, and none need accept your call who can not conscientiously sign your formulary.
Playing upon the prejudices of the weak and ignorant among our people, decrying creeds and an infringement upon the rights of conscience, making a deep impression by his extensive learning and great abilities, Alexander Campbell threatened at one time the total destruction of our faith.
―Inaugural Address, Furman University (1856)
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Abstract of Systematic Theology
It was at Princeton that Boyce
came under the teaching of great men like Archibald Alexander and probably the most influential man on
Boyce's theology, Charles Hodge. Through his years at Southern Seminary, Dr. Boyce used many books by
Charles Hodge as his basic classroom texts in systematic theology. This book of classroom notes was
finally published in 1882, the final revision being published in 1887. 556 pages from P & R Press.
A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
The author of this brief Doctrinal Catechism knows of no
work of the kind in circulation among Baptists. Keach's Catechism, generally called the "Baptist
Catechism", is scarcely used at all. No reason can be assigned for this, except that it is too difficult
for children. In the present work, an attempt has been made to simplify, as far as possible, without
sacrificing important truth.
To Train the Minister Whom God Has
James Petigru Boyce is rightly seen, not only as the founder of the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and its first president, but also as the leading founder of the
vision for organized theological education within the Southern Baptist Convention. This is an audacious
but sustainable claim made from the vantage point of well over a century after Boyce's famous manifesto,
"Three Changes in Theological Institutions," which articulated with consummate clarity his vision for
theological education. This vision was founded within the Baptist tradition and upon the impregnable rock
of Christian truth.
Abstract of Principles
When the original charter of the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which constitutes as a part
of the "fundamental laws." "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist
Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance,
as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid
down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the
How came it (the Bible) to be written? God inspired holy men to write it. Did they write it exactly as God wished? Yes; as much as if He had written every word himself. Ought it, therefore, to be believed and obeyed? Yes; as much as though God had spoken directly to us.
―A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
James P. Boyce Centennial Library