The Black Rock Address is a statement adopted September 28, 1832 by a group of Baptists convened at the Black Rock meeting-house in Baltimore, Maryland. The statement reflects their thoughts on several innovations gaining popularity in that time. The following opinions were given on Theological Institutions.
Colleges and Theological Schools next claim our attention. In speaking of colleges, we wish to be distinctly understood that it is not to colleges, collegial education, as such, that we have objection. We would cheerfully afford our own children such an education, did circumstances warrant the measure. But we object, in the first place, to sectarian colleges, as such. The idea of a Baptist College, and of a Presbyterian College, &c., necessarily implies that our distinct views of church government of gospel doctrine and gospel ordinances, are connected with human sciences, a principle which we cannot admit: we believe the kingdom of Christ to be altogether a kingdom not of this world. In the second place, we object to the notion of attaching professorships of divinity to colleges; because this evidently implies that the revelation which God has made of himself is a human science, on a footing with mathematics, philosophy, law, &c., which is contrary to the general tenor of revelation, and indeed to the very idea of a revelation. We perhaps need not add that we have for the same reason strong objection to colleges conferring the degree of Doctor of Divinity, and to preachers receiving it.—Thirdly, We decidedly object to persons after professing to have been called of the Lord to preach His gospel, going to a college or academy to fit themselves for that service.—lst. Because we believe that Christ possesses perfect knowledge of his own purposes, and of the proper instruments by which to accomplish them. If he has occasion for a man of science, he having power over all flesh, will so order it that the individual shall obtain the requisite learning before he calls him to his service, as was the case with Saul of Tarsus, and others since; and thus avoid subjecting himself to the imputation of weakness. For should Christ call a person to labor in the gospel field, who was unqualified for the work assigned him, it would manifest him to be deficient in knowledge relative to the proper instruments to employ, or defective in power to provide them. 2nd. Because we believe that the Lord calls no man to preach his gospel, till he has made him experimentally acquainted with that gospel, and endowed him with the proper measure of gifts, suiting the field he designs him to occupy; and the person giving himself up in obedience to the voice of Christ will find himself learning in Christ’s own school. But when a person professedly called of Christ to the gospel ministry, concludes that, in order to be useful, he must first go and obtain an academical education, he must judge that human science is of more importance in the ministry, than that knowledge and those gifts which Christ imparts to his servants. To act consistently then with his own principles, he will place his chief dependence for usefulness on his scientific knowledge, and aim mostly to display this in his preaching. This person, therefore, will pursue a very different course in his preaching, from that marked out by the great apostle to the Gentiles, who determined to know nothing among the people save Jesus Christ and him crucified.
As to Theological Schools, we shall at present content ourselves with saying that they are a reflection upon the faithfulness of the Holy Ghost, who is engaged according to the promise of the great Head of the church to lead the disciples into all truth. See John xvi. 13. Also, that in every age, from the school of Alexandria down to this day, they have been a real pest to the church of Christ. Of this we could produce abundant proof, did the limits of our address admit their insertion.