Trustees elected Edgar Y. Mullins to succeed Whitsitt. Mullins had graduated from the seminary in 1885 and served as pastor of churches in Kentucky, Maryland, and Massachusetts. His 29-year presidency shaped both the seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention. The seminary earned the trust and support of Southern Baptists broadly. In 1900 he and the faculty named William O. Carver as professor of missions, establishing only the second professorship in missions in the United States. Mullins led the school in the acquisition and building of its new campus, “The Beeches.” And he led successful campaigns to increase the endowment substantially, and to raise the capital to finance the new campus. Southern Baptists looked to Mullins to lead them in meeting the challenges of the Great Commission and to defend truth against new errors. Mullins led Southern Baptists to reject ecumenical alliances, since such alliances effectively required doctrinal accommodation. In opposition to evolutionary views, he led Southern Baptists to adopt a careful statement affirming the Bible’s teaching of the unique creation of Adam and Eve and rejecting evolutionary explanations of human origins. And in an effort to defend Southern Baptist institutions against liberal errors, Mullins drafted the Baptist Faith and Message, the statement of faith adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925. Southern Baptists elected Mullins president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1921, 1922, and 1923.
1899 Edgar Y. Mullins becomes the seminary’s fourth president.
1904 The seminary faculty establishes a theological journal, The Review and Expositor.
1914 Archibald T. Robertson publishes the monumental Grammar of the Greek New Testament.
1925 Mullins composes the draft of The Baptist Faith and Message and leads the southern.
1926 The seminary moves to “The Beeches,” its present campus.
By 1910, the seminary’s downtown campus could no longer support a student body that had grown to more than 300. The seminary would have to move. President Mullins and the trustee board acquired a remarkable 54-acre property five miles east of the downtown campus. It was already known as “The Beeches” for its majestic grove of beech trees. Mullins was committed to building an attractive campus which would be welcomed by the community and enjoyed by students and faculty. The prestigious Frederick Law Olmsted Brothers firm created a plan for the new campus that preserved the site’s natural splendor and arranged stately buildings in a parklike setting. Famed architect James Gamble Rogers executed the plan, designing the buildings in the style of the University of Virginia. The seminary moved into its beautiful new campus in the spring of 1926. The grand Norton Hall housed classrooms, a chapel, the library, and faculty and administrative offices. Across the great lawn stood Mullins Hall, comprising student dormitories and a cafeteria. The seminary added the Levering Gymnasium in 1929, as well as Luther Rice Hall and Adoniram Judson Hall for married student housing in 1931. Generations of students have been blessed by this graceful setting for theological education.
Archibald T. Robertson, professor of New Testament, was one the premier New Testament scholars of his generation and was probably the greatest scholar in the seminary’s history. He twice delivered the prestigious Stone Lectures at Princeton Seminary. Robertson published 45 books: four grammars of the New Testament, 14 commentaries and studies, six volumes in the series Word Pictures in the New Testament, 11 histories, and 10 New Testament character studies. The most impressive scholarship was A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1914). Other important books by Robertson included Epochs in the Life of Paul (1909), An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1925), Life and Letters of John A. Broadus (1901), The Minister and His Greek New Testament (1923), and Luke the Historian in the Light of Research (1920). He turned his scholarship to the defense of the historical accuracy of the scriptures, and argued effectively for the Bible’s full inspiration and inerrancy. He was also a popular preacher and lecturer, and was in great demand at the Chautauqua, Northfield, and Winona Lake Bible conferences. He also contributed extensively to denominational papers and magazines. Robertson experienced a stroke while teaching Greek in September, 1934, concluding his extraordinary 46-year teaching ministry at the seminary.
Any historical record of the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is incomplete without an honest telling of their complicity in American slavery and racism. For more on that story, read here.