Chapin is the 18th subject in A Noble Company, volume 7

3rd Aug 2016

"Throughout their history, Baptists have engaged in oftentimes vigorous debates over the value of theological education. In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, many Baptists balked at the implication that Baptist ministers needed formal education in order to spread the gospel. When Baptist institutions of learning spiked in the 1830s and 1840s, many Baptists railed against the idea that ministry could be taught in colleges, as if God’s calling could be studied like a 'human science.' The. . .American context of educational debates among Baptists makes the work and career of Baptist pastor, professor, and college president, Stephen Chapin (1778-1845) all the more fascinating. In a time when Baptists were anything but settled concerning the benefits (or detriments) of formal education, Chapin mounted a robust defense of education and the pursuit of knowledge. He dedicated over twenty years to formal education, twelve of which he served as president of the then ailing Columbian College. . . .Chapin’s work presents a dynamic and nuanced understanding of knowledge, one which recognizes the seemingly limitless potential of education on the one hand, and yet carefully tethers knowledge to piety, humility, and practicality on the other. Whether enlightening his congregation as pastor or enlightening his students as professor, Chapin believed that one’s legacy was commensurate with the education one instilled in others. By this standard, Chapin left a fruitful legacy not only for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Baptists, but for any Baptist who values and advocates formal education and moral enlightenment." --Chris Moore