As we approach the 2022 Annual Meeting, I wanted to highlight a sermon from a previous annual meeting. In 1988 Joel Gregory famously preached on “The Castle and the Wall” about the conflict in the SBC. It’s a message we need to be reminded of in the middle of the conflict the SBC faces today. The transcript for this sermon can be found at the SBHLA and the full video of the sermon can be found on Youtube. http://media2.sbhla.org.s3.amazonaws.com/sbc/sbc_sermons/1988_Joel_Gregory.pdf
EW Perry might be one of the best preachers that you have never heard of. He was born in 1882 and died in the 1960s. He was a long time pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and the first African-American man to preach before the southern Baptist convention. He did so at the invitation of RG Lee in 1949. This is very special audio that you’re hearing today because to my knowledge this is the only recording of him preaching!
You can read more about Dr. Perry and his life’s work here.
Today we are featuring more old audio, this time from Dr. Baker James Cauthen. He was the president of the Foreign Mission Board, now the IMB, from 1954-1979. Under his leadership the number of missionaries on the field grew from 908 to nearly 3,000 and they reached more than sixty more countries than before. Addtionally, the budget increased from $6.7 million in 1954 to $76.7 million in 1979.
Read more in his obituary at https://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/04/16/Cauthen-Southern-Baptist-leader-dead-at-75/2125482475600/
This audio is from when he spoke at Falls Creek Baptist Assembly in Oklahoma, on August 5 1969. This is part of the broadcast that went out over the radio, hence the short introduction. Falls Creek is the largest youth camp in the world and one of the leading places that missionaries with IMB first experience a call to ministry. Listen to his word he titled “Don’t Forget,” from the Gospel of Matthew.
It’s been a while since I have been able to post updates to the SBC History Podcast, but I’ve got a plan for this year and I can’t wait to share it with you! Today I’m sharing some old audio from the 1959 SBC Pastors Conference, a sermon on the Deity of Christ by RG Lee.
RG Lee was one of the premier pulpiteers of his day, and the pastor of the legendary Bellevue Baptist Church. As this audio is old there it’s not always of the best quality but I think you will be edified by it. Enjoy this and look for new material to be coming out this year!
There are some names in Baptist life that everyone is familiar with, like Lottie Moon or Billy Graham. Still others like John Broadus or LR Scarborough are known mainly to pastors and academics. Today on the SBC History Podcast we talk with pastor Matt Thomas to learn about another Baptist we should know about, Isaac Backus.
There are many reasons to read good history. Biographies and general histories remind us of those who have come before us, and can shine light on current events. The history of the Southern Baptist Convention and it’s leaders and members can both inform and inspire us as we work together to take the Gospel of Christ across the world.
Right now there is lots of down time in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic. It can be a great time to read as history and biography can remind of the sacrifices, mistakes, and triumphs of those who came fore us. Below are some of the stories of the people and places of the SBC. Some are short reads, others are longer works, but all will educate you.
Take a look, find a book, and read some about SBC History.
GENERAL OR INSTITUTIONAL HISTORIES
Jesse C Fletcher
This book marked the 150th anniversary of the SBC and covers the convention from 1845-1994
Called “the greatest revival in Baptist history.” Read the story of this remarkable work of God through Southern Baptist Missionaries in China. 0
J. Frank Norris
This is the history of the SBC’s most colorful character, including how he pastored churches in Ft Worth and Detroit at the same time, shot a man in his office, and coined the term “fundamentalist”
The Herschel Hobbs Lectures are a series of lectures given at Oklahoma Baptist University on the topic of Baptist history and life. They contain fascinating glimpses into Baptist historical life.
A Personal History of LifeWay Christian Resources and the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention
Belvin was a leader in Outreach to Native Americans in the state of OK. Published by New Hope (WMU) in 1986
This is the first book published by the Sunday School Board in 1898. It tells the story of Matthew Yates, one of the early missionaries of the SBC
Read it online for free at the link above
This is the story of Lolo Mae Daniel, who became a missionary with the FMB after retiring as a school teacher at the age of 60. Published by the WMU in 1988.
Rankin was an IMB missionary to China who spent time in a Japanese prison camp in WWII, and later Exec Director of the IMB.
Listen to Dr. Kevin Smith from the Maryland/Delaware Baptist Convention discuss the history of the National Baptist Convention, it’s relation to the SBC, and what’s exciting about the SBC today!
Join Luke and Mark Clifton from the North American Mission Board as they discuss how history affects church revitalization, how a pastor can celebrate the past while looking to the future, and much more!
J. Frank Norris is one of the most infamous men in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. He shot a man in his office, left rotting fruit on the doorsteps of seminary professors, and called out men in his sermon titles.
He is well known for his many exploits, and still talked about both in and out of the the SBC. Called the Shooting Salvationist, Norris makes us think about what do with man like that. How do we balance being thankful for the good a man did and condemning him for his evil actions? On today’s podcast Bart Barber talks about Norris and his place in SBC History.
The SWBTS Legacy of J. Frank Norris. by OS Hawkins
Gunfire and Brimstone – Texas Monthly
J Frank Norris: No Independent. (A Sort of Defense of Norris.)
Mr. President, Mr. President!” Three voices spoke almost as one. “Mr. President, do I have the floor?”
The president’s gavel hammered vigorously. “The Chair recognizes Brother Stealey.”
“Mr. President, we must settle this evolution issue at once,” Clarence Stealey said. “Let the messengers to this annual session of the Southern Baptist Convention vote now. It’s the most pressing matter before us in 1925. Brother Burts’s money report can come later.”
“Mr. President!” shouted Bronson Ray taking advantage of Stealey’s pause, “the editor from Oklahoma may think other matters are more important than money. But that’s because he doesn’t have the foreign missionaries looking to him for their salaries. He doesn’t have debts piling higher every month and precious little money coming in to pay them. I tell you we are in a bad way. This Convention must do something before it leaves Memphis…”
The gavel beat out an insistent interruption.
“Gentleman, Gentleman!” said President McDaniel. “Let’s get on with the order of business. Brother Charles Burts has been standing here for ten minutes now to give his report. We shall hear him now.”
Burts eyes moved over the big room, and then back to the paper in his hand. He read slowly, his voice lifting slightly as he accented certain words and phrases. His was the first annual report of the Future Program Commission, of which he was general director. The report set forth and named the new unified budget of the denomination.
“From the adoption of this report it shall be known as the Cooperative Program,” read Burts.
The report was adopted in routine fashion by messengers anxious to get on with debate on evolution. With that action, the the Cooperative Program was launched May 13, 1925 at the Southern Baptist Convention in Memphis, TN.
The Cooperative Program was almost overlooked in the beginning. State papers were concerned with debts and debate. Few messengers paid attention to it or caught its significance.
Our Cooperative Program By W. E. Grindstaff, Sunday School Training Course material 1965 Published by Convention Press
Such humble beginnings for something that most Baptist’s would be quick to praise now. Something that seems to be an indispensable part of Baptist life is less than 100 years old and got off to a slow start, as Grindstaff later discusses in his book. Grindstaff served as pastor of several churches in Oklahoma after attending Oklahoma Baptist University, and later served the BGCO and was director of Cooperative Program Promotion with the Stewardship Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, so this is an area he is well familiar with. There were several failed attempts at funding the work of Southern Baptist before this, such as the Judson Memorial Fund, the $75 Million Campaign, and the many special pleas made by agencies to churches every week across the country. Until the Conventions agencies paid off most of their outstanding debts with the “Hundred Thousand Club” from 1933-1943, the CP was slow in getting going.
Once it finally started rolling, it funded untold salvations, missionaries, block parties, and baptisms, among other things. There has been much discussion about the future of the CP, and of the way that we need to fund our work among the nations. But as I read this book, by a man commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention to write a training course to educate all Southern Baptists on the Cooperative Program, I was struck at the time it took them to reach the conclusion of the CP, and the time, again and again, it took to fine tune it. I know that we have now reached that time again, but I doubt the CP will be scrapped any time soon. It will be tweaked, challenged, changed, and more, as it has throughout it’s history. Obstacles arise, new ideas come forth, and we must do the best to continue to push the gospel, to our neighbors and the nations. The history of the SBC is one of change, believe it or not. We tried whatever we could to get the name of Jesus out to the world. Some attempts were ill advised, some were spectacularly successful.
The history of the CP is well documented, but don’t think that everyone was in agreement with it. Grinsdstaff records the sentiments of three people who left that convention in 1925.
“Happiness of former conventions was not on the face of delegates. This was due, perhaps, to the depressing effect of our huge debts.” CW McEloy
“The Convention was the least satisfying of all I have attended in twenty-five years.” TC Skinner
“The Convention struck no high tide. We seemed to not be together.” Frank L Hardy
At a time when they just voted to start cooperating, to institute the great CP, it was felt as if nothing was accomplished. It feels like the SBC is more divided than ever now, so it’s good to be reminded that this is not a new spot in history! Although our concerns are many, and there are difficulties to overcome, we can look at history and see God worked through that time and is working through ours as well.
There were many varied opinions that were put forth, and tempers flared as the SBC fought to figure out the best way to fund God’s work. At the time, it seemed like there were more pressing issues to deal with, but there is no more pressing issue than sharing the Gospel. As we continue to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the world, we must continue to work together, finding new and creative ways to work together, as we have before.
We won’t all agree on every single detail. We are Baptist’s, after all. But by the grace of God we will continue to work together to take the good news of Christ across the street and across the world. I trust the leaders God has blessed us with in the SBC, and trust the heart of it’s pastors and members to put Christ first above all.