In Memorium: Augustus Hopkins Strong
03 August 1863 was the birthday of the famed Baptist theologian Augustus Hopkins Strong (1863-1921). Strong was born in Rochester, New York and seldom left there for long. His father, Alvah Strong, was one of the founders of the town of Rochester and of Rochester Theological Seminary (now part of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School). Augustus earned his B.A. in English at Yale (magna cum laude, 1857) and would always be interested in poetry throughout his life, eventually writing a book about the “theologies” of many poets. He graduated Rochester Theological Seminary in 1861 and was ordained to the Baptist ministry the same year. After pastoring churches in Ohio and Massachussetts, Strong became President and Professor of Theology at Rochester Theological Seminary in 1872, holding those posts for 40 years. He authored numerous books and increased the seminary’s endowment tenfold. His 3 volume Systematic Theology became a mainstay among evangelical Baptists for generations. Strong tried to wrestle with the problems of his era, including biological evolution, historical relativity, industrialization, and many other challenges of modernity without abandoning the central claims of Christian orthodoxy. Yet Strong hired Walter Rauschenbusch and protected him from attacks by fundamentalists. He believed strongly in academic freedom and in liberty of conscience–grieving when his own son rejected Christian faith for agnosticism.
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