B&H Academic, 2021
One can only imagine how J. Frank Norris would be speaking to the broader culture today if he had a Twitter account. Norris’ pugnacious personality when leading First Baptist Church in Fort Worth in the early 20th century has historically been viewed unfavorably compared to his rival from that era at First Baptist, Dallas, George W. Truett.
O.S. Hawkins takes another look at the men’s reputations, revisiting the glow around Truett while connecting Norris’ efforts to challenge the status quo as an outsider to unintended consequences that influence the Southern Baptist Convention today.
Competition, conflict and faithful followers
While leading their respective pulpits for nearly five decades, Hawkins writes, “These men passed the years in almost constant competition and conflict with each other, while at the same time endearing themselves to thousands of followers at home and across the entire United States as radio broadcasts and their printed sermons propagated their ministries.”
Hawkins brings personal knowledge to the project, having served as pastor of FBC Dallas and also as a close friend to Truett’s successor, W.A. Criswell, who, Hawkins writes, “grew up in a home where his father was a devout follower of Norris and his mother a passionate devotee of Truett.”
Anyone who wants to learn more about these men who figure so prominently in Southern Baptist history will find this book of interest.