The Sunday School Principles Of “Uncle Boston” -- By: Larry D. Pettegrew

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 11:4 (Winter 1968)
Article: The Sunday School Principles Of “Uncle Boston”
Author: Larry D. Pettegrew

The Sunday School Principles Of “Uncle Boston”

Larry D. Pettegrew

Chapter I: “Uncle Boston” Smith


“Uncle Boston” Smith lived a long time ago. The same newspaper that carried the obituary notice of Boston W. Smith, for example, also carried the story of the death of a man who was run down by a horse and wagon. When the driver failed to stop, the witnesses were so angered that they all ran after the driver, captured him, and delivered him to the police station. Such a story hardly seems familiar, in any way, to the newspapers of the 1960’s. The question arises, therefore, how can the life and Sunday School principles of a man who lived and died in such a different era from the space age of the present have any relevance today?

Actually, the world conditions are little different today from those in 1900. The following excerpt, for example, could conceivably be taken from the annals of a Baptist Convention of recent years: “That we are living in the grandest period of the world’s history so far experienced there can be no doubt; but we must not blind our eyes to the fact that very serious perils on every side threaten our civilization, our national welfare, and our Christianity. The gambling mania is spreading into what should be honorable business. The general practice of adulteration is corrupting the conscience of multitudes even of respectable and Christian men… Socialism on the side that tends to anarchy is thoroughly Godless, hating God and the Bible and religion more even than it hates the laws of men.” Yet, surprisingly enough, this is an excerpt from the annals of the Minnesota Baptist Convention held in 1886. The major difference in the world situation today, besides the fact that men drive automobiles instead of horses, is that godlessness is more fully developed.

Conditions in Baptist Sunday Schools today are also quite similar to those found in the Baptist Sunday Schools of the 1880’s

when Boston W. Smith first became the Minnesota State Sunday School Missionary.


One of the qualities that plagued the Sunday Schools of Boston Smith’s day was contentment. In his annual report to the Minnesota Baptist Convention in 1883, Smith made this statement:

“Notwithstanding the progress made, too many of our schools are enjoying a contented frame of mind, and such contentment is sadly deplored. What these schools were three years ago, you find them today; officered by half-hearted men, because they have so little time for the Lord’s work; incompetent teachers, because no effort is put forth setting on foot plans of work which would make them more competent.” M...

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