We are going to take a trip to Louisville, Kentucky and visit the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to talk a little bit about the rich history of this seminary. We should also talk about the campus itself. There are many treasures here, and the campus is certainly one of them. It’s a beautiful campus with many red brick buildings with white spires and white columns. The landscape design was done by one of the most famous landscape architects of all time, especially of the nineteenth century, Frederick Law Olmsted. He designed Central Park, many of the parks in Louisville, and also the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In addition to the campus itself, Southern Seminary houses a lot of treasures. One of the treasures I’ve been able to handle there and look at is the Codex Robertsonianus. It is from the eleventh century and it is a manuscript of the four gospels. It’s a cursive manuscript on vellum. It is named for A.T. Robertson. Do you remember him? He was the great New Testament professor at Southern, a Greek scholar. He was here from the time of his graduation in 1888 right up to the time of his death in 1934. He loved the Greek text. This manuscript was up for auction and he purchased it and bequeathed it to his beloved seminary, and it is housed in one of the vaults here. I’ve been able to see it and handle it and see the scribe’s work in this wonderful eleventh-century manuscript.
There’s also a rich legacy of presidents here, going back to the first president who founded Southern Seminary, James Petigru Boyce. He founded the seminary in 1859 in Greenville, South Carolina and then came the Civil War. The seminary shuttered its doors during the Civil War. It reopened after the war and moved to Louisville, Kentucky. Boyce was still president then, followed by John Broadus, the second president. They and many other presidents and faculty are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery, a very famous cemetery in Louisville, just a couple miles from the seminary. It was originally a burial ground for Native Americans. They used the caves in the side of the hills to bury their dead, so it came to be called Cave Hill Cemetery. One of the twentieth-century seminary presidents is buried there. His name is Duke McCall, and he’s got a fascinating story. He actually survived a plane crash and is the only person to have been hijacked not once, but twice on commercial airliners. One time he was flying from Tampa to Miami. The plane was hijacked and taken to Cuba, and then later he was hijacked again. Duke McCall lived a rather long and evidently eventful life. He died of natural causes at the age of ninety-nine.
Of course, the fascinating story about Southern Seminary is a story you don’t often hear much in church history. That is a story of a seminary that was headed in a very liberal direction, and then it turned around and recommitted itself to its conservative foundation built on the inerrant Word of God.
Well, much of that was owing to yet another president of Southern Seminary, who is part of the past and also part of the present, and that is Dr. Albert Mohler. Dr. Mohler is now twenty-six years into his presidency of that seminary. When he went to that seminary back in 1993, he had a battle to fight. Again, often we hear this story of an institution that declines, but Southern is a great story of an institution that was turned around.
These people, manuscripts, and buildings are just some of the rich treasures of this storied institution of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.