On Nov. 3, Logan Carson, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SEBTS) first full-time African-American professor, passed away at the age of 86. Carson, who taught theology at SEBTS from 1994-2009, will be remembered for his vibrant zeal for life, love for teaching scripture to his students and his humility in serving others.
Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS said, “The thing I remember most about Dr. Carson is that he said he didn’t want his sight back in this life because, ‘the first thing I want to see is Jesus’ face.’”
Carson was born in McDowell County in July of 1932 and suffered from blindness at birth due to malformed retinas. However, blindness did not stop Carson’s zeal in ministry and his love for the Lord. In 1955, Carson was pursuing his degree to become a constitutional attorney when he was called by God to change his educational endeavors to teach students the Bible.
Carson received his bachelor of arts in Bible and social science from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., in May of 1957. In 1960, just three days after marrying his wife, Glenwood, he received his bachelor of divinity from Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut. Twenty years later in May of 1980, the Graduate School of Drew University conferred on Carson a doctor of philosophy degree.
His students through the years have been impacted by the way he taught them to know and love scripture and to honor the Lord through doing everything well for his glory. His motto was, “In Christ, strive for excellence.”
Doug Nalley, director of housing at SEBTS and a former student of Carson’s remembers how he would affectionately call his students, “tadpoles,” as they were not fully-developed theologians.
Nalley recalled a story Carson told his class of how he was going to be sent to make brooms after graduating high school, but Carson was determined to do more.
“They laughed at him initially, but then off he went to law school,” said Nalley. “Next was theology school. If they had their way, Dr. Carson would have spent his life making brooms. However, in God’s providence, God used this blind man to prepare untold numbers of students to fulfill the Great Commission and serve the church.”
During his time at SEBTS, Carson also served as pastor of Green-Bethel Baptist Church in Boiling Springs, N.C. Carson taught at a number of other schools, including as an instructor of religion at Montclair State College, N.J.; a professor at Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs; and a Bible knowledge master at Waka Schools, Bui, Northeastern State, Nigeria, West Africa.
Carson’s ministerial positions included pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C.; associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Jeffersontown, Ky.; pastor of Webb First Baptist Church in Ellenboro, N.C.; and pastor of Christ Community Baptist Church in Gastonia, N.C.
Throughout his educational journey, Carson was both an outstanding student and beloved professor. As a student, Carson graduated with high honors from Shaw University, received special commendation in receiving his master’s degree and maintained a 4.0 grade point average during his doctoral studies, while also being rewarded with multiple fellowships.
During his time as SEBTS professor, Carson was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003. He also has been listed twice in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
Wayne McDill, emeritus senior professor of preaching at SEBTS, was both a colleague and neighbor of Carson’s.
“I was on the faculty committee that interviewed Dr. Carson when he came for a preliminary visit to Southeastern,” said McDill. “My first impression was that he was so informed about almost any subject, and that he was spiritually sensitive.”
“I was struck with his genuine interest in students. I was in his office one time when a student came by. Dr. Carson immediately recognized him and asked about his situation. Then he prayed for him while we stood there together.”
Carson served in other capacities during his career as well, including as a music writer for a Kentucky newspaper called The American Baptist, parliamentarian for the Ebenezer Baptist Association and Garner-Webb College faculty meetings, moderator of the Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Association, a speaker and evangelist for revival services and a conference leader for multiple Winter Bible Studies.
Carson was preceded in death by his wife Glenwood (whom he affectionately called “Pep”) and is survived by his two adult children Aaron and Tricia.
The funeral will be held at Southeastern’s Binkley Chapel on Monday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m.
For more information regarding funeral and visitation details, click here.
To view a SEBTS chapel sermon from Carson, click here.