Southern Baptists Boyce, Broadus, Manly Jr. on Inerrancy

From the very beginning of the Southern Baptist Convention, the doctrine of inerrancy has been affirmed and treasured by Southern Baptists. Three of the founding professors of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first seminary give insight into their beliefs on inerrancy being a biblical and necessary doctrine.

Founding president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary James P. Boyce writes:

It must come from God, the source of all our other knowledge. No other could give it, and it is fit that no other should do so. It must be suited to our present condition, confirming the truth already known, and teaching what is practically useful to man as a sinner before God. It must be secured from all possibility of error, so that its teachings may be relied on with equal, if not greater, confidence than those of reason. It must come with authority, claiming and proving its claim to the word of God, who has the right to command, and to punish those who disobey his command, with authority also, that man may with confidence believe and trust the promises and hope of pardon and peace it may hold out.

James P. Boyce. Abstract of Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1867), 48.

Founding professor Basil Manly Jr. writes:

This full recognition of the human authorship of the Scriptures is of prime importance; for much of the force of the argument against a strict doctrine of Inspiration consists in proving this human authorship of the sacred writings, which we think is undeniable, and then inferring from that their fallibility. “Human, therefore fallible,” they say; “fallible, therefore false in some measure.” But this favorite line of argument seems to us to be more plausible than powerful. It is a mere assumption that their being human forbids also being divine; that God cannot so inspire and use a human being as to keep his message free from error; that the human origin, under divine control, necessarily involves either falsity or fallibility. This seems to be perfectly plain: yet this fallacy underlies whole pages of vigorous denunciation and confident appeal.

Basil Manly Jr. The Bible Doctrine of Inspiration. (New York: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1988), 29-30.

One can discern from a section of founding professor John Broadus’ self-written catechism that he believed in the inerrancy of Scripture:

Did the inspired writers receive everything by direct revelation?

The inspired writers learned many things by observation or inquiry, but they were preserved by the Holy Spirit from error; whether in learning or in writing these things.

What if inspired writers sometimes appear to disagree in their statements?

Most cases of apparent disagreement in the inspired writings have been explained, and we may be sure that all could be explained if we had fuller information.

Is this also true when the Bible seems to be in conflict with history or science?

Yes, some cases of apparent conflict with history or science have been explained quite recently that were long hard to understand.

Has it been proven that the inspired writers stated anything as true that not true? No; there is no proof that the inspired writers made any mistake of any kind.

John A. Broadus. A Catechism for Bible Teaching. (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1892).

For further reading on inspiration, inerrancy, and issues of Biblical authority, one may find James Draper and Kenneth Keathley’s Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue for the Body of Christ¬†a helpful read.