Baptist History Homepage

Elder T. T. EATON, D.D., LL.D.
By Ben M. Bogard

T. T. Eaton was born in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Nov. 16, 1845. His father, Joseph H. Eaton, LL.D., was a preacher and educator, and was, for a time, pastor in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and President of Union University, and it is to him that the honor of founding the University is due.

T. T. Eaton was educated in Union University, and afterward studied at Madison University, New York, and at Washington College, Lexington, Virginia. He is a ripe scholar, and is one of the very few men to whom Dr. John A. Broadus went for advice.

He has been pastor at Lebanon, Chattanooga and Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Petersburg, Virginia, and for nineteen years he has been pastor of Walnut-street church, Louisville, Ky. His success in Louisville has been extraordinary.

During his present pastorate not less than fifteen hundred have been given letters by Walnut-street church, to go into the organization of other churches. Seven hundred were granted letters in one day to go into the organization of the Twenty-second and Walnut-street church, Louisville. This church, located eighteen blocks away, on the same street as the mother church, has grown into a great church,
[p. 173]
with perhaps the largest congregation of any church in the city. The Third-avenue and McFerran Memorial churches went out from Walnut-street, and are now strong churches of several hundred members. Other new churches have drawn heavily on the Walnut-street membership. Notwithstanding this enormous decrease in membership, and notwithstanding the fact that there were less than seven hundred members when the present pastorate began, there are now seventeen hundred members. A little study of these figures will give some idea of the great work which has been done at Walnut-street.

The great work accomplished in this church is another proof of the value of long pastorates. No man, who is capable of efficient service, can accomplish much in two or three years.

For five years Dr. Eaton taught in Union University (1867-1872). For the work of teaching he is eminently fitted, but it would have been a pity for such a life to have been spent in the school room. His work as teacher, however, enabled him to become a finished scholar, and that has greatly helped him in meeting the polite heresies which he has had to fight in recent years.

Dr. Eaton is a ready, rapid speaker. He drives right at the point, and can make a speech in five minutes when it would take another man a half hour to say the same thing. He has been known to arise in the associations and conventions which he frequently attends, and make a telling speech before
[p. 174]
the Moderator could declare him out of order. Having said what he wanted to say it didn't matter if he did have to sit down.

He is a strong, pungent writer. He has written .several books, such as "The Angels," "Talks on Getting Married," "Talks to Children," "Faith of the Baptists," "Conscience in Missions," etc. He has been editor of the Western Recorder for twelve years. This is one of the greatest Baptist papers in the world, and its influence is felt throughout all the Southern States, and it is a paper that must be reckoned with in any denominational movement. Dr. Eaton has given the paper its strength.

Since the death of J. R. Graves there has been no abler defender of orthodoxy. It was to Dr. Eaton that all the South looked for defense when Whitsittism had unsettled everything. It was Dr. Eaton more than any other man who forced Wm. H. Whitsitt to resign his position in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is true that such men as J. T. Christian, J. S. Coleman, J. N. Hall and others contributed largely to the great controversy. S. H. Ford, the historian and scholar, also wrote strong, forceful articles on Whitsitt's vagaries, but it was Dr. Eaton that Dr. Whitsitt feared, and it was he that waged the war that resulted in victory for the orthodox Baptists of the South. Thank God, he is yet a young man (54 years old), and is probably good for twenty-five years of service, and orthodoxy may be sure of a pillar while he lives.

Dr. Eaton is a popular lecturer of no mean reputation.
[p. 175]
He has delivered lectures on such topics as "Poor Kin," "Women As They Are," "Egotism," "Ideals," "Study of the Classics," "Observations Abroad," etc. Large audiences greet him wherever he goes.

He has traveled extensively in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. His quick eye saw things for itself, and his observations, which he has published in the Western Recorder, and which he gives in his lecture on "Observations Abroad," are not such as are copied from guide books, as the weary public is so often afflicted with, but bright, fresh, original descriptions of what he saw for himself.

He received the title of D.D., from the Washington and Lee University in 1878, and that of LL.D. from Southwestern Baptist University in 1880.

A specimen of his writing is given at the close of this sketch. It is perhaps the best short presentation of the subject of Baptism that has ever been published. We also publish an editorial from the Western Recorder in defense of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.
[From Ben M. Bogard, editor, Pillars of Orthodoxy, or Defenders of the Faith, 1900. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]

More on T. T. Eaton
Baptist History Homepage