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James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman (Nettles)

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P&R Publishing

James Petigru Boyce (1827–1888) devoted his life and resources to the dream of training Southern men from many economic and educational backgrounds for pastoral ministry. "Boyce lived and breathed theological education," Thomas Nettles writes. "His theological conviction and his zeal for the strength and purity of Baptist churches drove him to an unrelenting advocacy of theological education for Baptist preachers."

Here is a story of faith triumphing amid struggles and controversies within the Southern Baptist Church. At a time when piety and scholarship were often viewed as antithetical, and no formal confessional statements were required of pastors, Boyce envisioned a confessional seminary that reflected the best of pious scholarship and stood as a bulwark against the slide toward theological diversity. These pages show why Boyce's accomplishment was truly one of the wonders of American theological education.



Thomas J. Nettles (MDiv, PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He is regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America today. He formerly was chair of the Department of Church History at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Nettles is the author or editor of several books, among them By His Grace and For His Glory and Baptists and the Bible.



"Finally, here is a contemporary, definitive biography of James Boyce, the nineteenth-century, visionary founder of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Boyce served as chairman of the faculty, and as professor of systematic and practical theology, and church government. Tom Nettles shows how Boyce gave his life to training Baptist theological students in orthodox, Reformed, experiential theology. Nettles does with Boyce what Iain Murray did with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Without resorting to hagiography, Nettles offers fascinating details of God’s great work through Boyce’s intriguing relationships with other notables, such as Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, Charles Hodge, Basil Manly Jr., Francis Wayland, F. B. Meyer, John A. Broadus, William Williams, and C. H. Toy. Ultimately this captivating biography moves us to worship God. Make it your must-read biography this year ." - Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids 

“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, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 

“Tom Nettles has done a masterful job in telling the story of James P. Boyce. As a pastor, patriot, scholar, institution builder, and denominational statesman, Boyce transcended the strictures of the difficult times through which he lived to become one of the most formative shapers of the Baptist tradition. Boyce’s theology deserves a fresh hearing today, and this new biography offers a pathway into the heart and mind of a great soul.” — Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University 

“A compelling relation of the life and work of James Petigru Boyce, one of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s principal founders. Nettles’s engaging treatment of Boyce’s life will strengthen the hearts of disciples and encourage them to continue in the faith.” — C. Berry Driver, associate professor of systematic theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 

“Dr. Nettles’s 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 Old Princeton and how, 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