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Benajah Harvey Carroll
(b. near Carrolton, Carrol County, Miss., Dec. 27, 1843; d. Fort Worth, Tex., Nov. 11, 1914). Pastor, teacher, denominational leader, author. He led in the founding of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as president of the seminary until his death. He was one of 12 children born to Benajah and Mary Eliza (Mallard) Carroll. His father was a Baptist minister who supported his family by farming. He moved with his parents to Arkansas in 1848 and to Burleson County, Tex., in 1858.
At 16 he entered Baylor University, then located at Independence, Tex. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Texas Ranger service to guard the Texas frontier. In 1862 he enlisted in the regular army. First assigned to the Seventeenth Regiment of Texas infantry, he served to the end of the war.
Although his college career was interrupted by the war, Baylor University granted him the B.A. degree. In later years he received honorary M.A. and D.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee and the LL.D. degree from Keatchie College, La.
He was converted in 1865, following a period of bitter struggle with skepticism, as he later recorded in his famous sermon, "My Infidelity and What Became of It." The same year he united with the Baptist church of Caldwell, Tex. He was ordained to the gospel ministry the following year.
In 1866 he was married to Ellen Virginia Bell. To them were born nine children: Hassie, Ellen, Hallie, Jimmy, Guy Sears, B. H., Jr., Charles, Katherine, and Annie Louise. After the death of his first wife, he married Hallie Harrison in 1899. To them was born one son, Francis Harrison.
Following the war years, he preached to small churches in Burleson County and found it necessary to teach school for three years in order to pay debts incurred during the war. He served as pastor of Providence Church, Burleson County, and New Hope Church, McLennan County. In 1870 he was called to the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Waco, where he served until 1899 when he was elected corresponding secretary for the Texas Baptist Education Commission.
Always intensely interested in higher education, he taught theology and Bible in Baylor University from 1872 to 1905. He organized the Baylor Theological Seminary in 1905, and led in the founding of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose charter was granted
Mar. 14, 1908. At this time he became president of the seminary where he served until his death. The seminary was moved to Fort Worth in 1910.
He was known as an influential denominational leader. He served on several state and Southern Baptist Convention committees, making notable addresses in the interest of various areas of denominational work. He gave particular emphasis to evangelism, prohibition, Christian education, and the work of home missions.
The published works of Carroll total 33 volumes, comprising special addresses, doctrinal discussions, sermons, and expositions. His best known work is An Interpretation of the English Bible, a commentary of 13 volumes. Outstanding books of sermons are Jesus the Christ, Baptists and Their Doctrines, and Christ and His Church. There are yet 15 volumes of unpublished materials.
He possessed an outstanding personality. Towering several inches over six feet, he made a commanding appearance. In later years he wore a flowing white beard. Endowed with a powerful and pleasing voice, he was widely known for his oratorical ability. Many stories are told concerning his unusual intellectual ability and especially with regard to his gift of memory. Certain spiritual experiences which he related indicate the depth and fervor of his piety and devotion to Jesus Christ. Shortly before his death he summoned Lee R. Scarborough, whom he had suggested to become his successor as president of Southwestern Seminary, and said to him, "Lee, lash the Seminary to the heart of the Saviour." He died Nov. 11, 1914, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Waco, Tex.
Lefevre, Alan Jeffery. Fighting the good fight: the life and work of Benajah Harvey Carroll, 1994.
Cranfill, J. B. Sermons and life sketch of B. H. Carroll, 1893.
Ray, Jefferson Davis. B. H. Carroll, 1927.
Archival sources in Southern Baptist Historical Library
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