Kentucky Pastor Testifies B.H. Carroll Became a Premillennialist

While I was pastor at East Baptist Church, Paducah, from 1932-1943, the late W. H. Horton was pastor of First Baptist Church, Mayfield. Dr. Horton spoke at East Church and at other Paducah meetings, but I heard him most often at the West Kentucky Baptist Pastor’s Conference, which during those years met regularly once a month at the Mayfield church. One of the subjects discussed from time to time in this conference was prophecy, and Dr. Horton often was asked to lead in these discussions. He was premillennial in his position, and was an able preacher and teacher of the Bible. On more than one occasion I heard him relate the following story:

During the last years of Dr. Carroll’s life Dr. Horton was pastor in Palestine, Texas, a city located about 100 miles east of Waco. Dr. Horton said that he had numerous occasions for fellowship and conversation with Dr. Carroll during those years. Dr. Carroll died in November, 1914, about five months after World War I had begun, and before his death Europe already was aflame. Moreover, for some years before the War there were evidences that one was coming.

Dr. Horton said that he discussed the dangers of war and the war itself with Dr. Carroll, and that he (Dr. Carroll) stated that he wished that he could live long enough to rewrite his books on Revelation and Daniel, since he had been mistaken in his position. He had believed that the preaching of the gospel and the growing influence of Christianity would bring a warless world and usher in the millennium. (One can see this conviction as he reads Dr. Carroll’s commentaries.) When the threat of war, and then the war itself, came, Dr. Carroll evidently saw that he had been mistaken in his position.

Dr. Horton also related an experience of Dr. Carroll, in those late years of his life, supplying for one of his former students, and announcing in advance that he was going to speak on the Second Coming. The pastor, who was evidently premillennial in his position on the Lord’s return, told his former teacher that he would be glad for him to speak on this subject, but that he reserved the right to answer him in a later message. When Dr. Carroll spoke, however, his message evidently was much like the premillennial position, if not that, that the pastor told Dr. Carroll that what he had preached was not what he had taught in his classes. The old preacher and teacher is reported to have replied that he was preaching the Word as he understood it then.

There is nothing in Dr. Carroll’s books (I have his commentary and a number of volumes of his sermons) to corroborate such a change of position, but I am reporting what I heard Dr. Horton tell, and I am sure he was reporting it as he remembered it. It is an interesting sidelight in Baptist history.

Of course, many theologians at the beginning of this century, believed that the 20th Century was about to usher in the millennium. They believed that it would be brought about by the work of the churches and the preaching of the gospel. There are few who hold this position today, and I wonder what these men of that day would say now as they looked back on what some have called “the bloodiest century of history.”

God does promise a world in which “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,” but it is not to be brought about by the work of the church but by the return of the Lord Himself. Joe T. Odle,

(The above story originally appeared in the Western Recorder newspaper on March 24, 1977. After pastoring in west Kentucky, Joe T. Odle {the author of “Church Member’s Handbook”} moved to Mississippi to pastor and later edit the Baptist Record newspaper. W.H. Horton pastored the First Baptist Church of Mayfield, Kentucky from 1927-1951.)