by O. L. Clark, Ph.D. (Tor.) (1895-1989)
Some institutions come into being as a result of extended and careful planning on the part of certain individuals, but not so Toronto Baptist Seminary. It was born in a time of crisis to fill an immediate and urgent need. The Lord so ordered the circumstances that the beloved Founder had no alternative but to launch an educational scheme which, to human eyes, seemed an almost overwhelming responsibility.
The Gospel Witness of August 27th, 1925, contained a momentous article by the Editor, Dr. T. T. Shields, setting forth the foundation principles of “The Toronto Baptist Pastors College” which he proposed to establish. Modernism was rampant in many of the theological institutions, and safe evangelical training schools were either situated at a distance or were not committed to teaching our distinctive Baptist doctrines.
McMaster University, hitherto the logical training centre for Baptist ministers, was definitely following the existing trend toward Modernism, in spite of the strong protest of many Evangelicals in Ontario and Quebec, the spokesman for whom was Dr. Shields. Something must be done at once. One brief sentence in The Gospel Witness of December 23rd, 1926, announced the fulfilment of the Founder’s purpose and the culmination of this important missionary project:
“Toronto Baptist Seminary, the new Baptist College rendered necessary by the inroads of Modernism, will open its classes on January 4th, 1927, in the Seminary Building, 337 Jarvis Street, Toronto.”
So wisely did the founders of this institution build that in spite of the passing of the years and the changing economic, social and religious conditions, the same principles are still considered to be the most sound, and they still govern the policy of Toronto Baptist Seminary.
Since that opening date, January 4th, 1927, successive classes of students have been trained in the Seminary for the work of the Lord at home and abroad. It is nearly ninety years since the first Graduation Exercises were held. Except for a break of three years during World War II this teaching ministry has been continuous. Graduates have gone to the ends of the earth, fired with a passion for the souls of a lost humanity, and at the same time trained intellectually and spiritually according to the standards of the Word of God. In settled pastorates, in pioneer fields, in schools, colleges, training institutes in Canada and other lands they are to be found, spreading the Gospel message.
In this age of world confusion and perplexity there is an ever-increasing need for leaders with a burning zeal for the Lord, a steady hand and sound mind, men with hope for the future, with knowledge of the plan and purpose of God and His unchanging grace, men who will uncompromisingly stand for the faith and confidently declare the Lord’s answer to individual, ecclesiastical, national and international problems. The call for Baptist ministers of faith and conviction is insistent, and this is the hour for advance, as far as the Seminary is concerned. We have a message for the hour. As the enemy seems to be coming in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord is lifting up a standard against him (Is. 59:19). Doors of opportunity are swinging open for fearless and active servants of the Lord. The Seminary rejoices in the fellowship with the many churches which generously support the school and provides avenues of service for many of our students and graduates.