• eric bauman

Gods Man in the 20th Century part 1: J Frank Norris

Updated: Jan 13

God will always leave people his preserved word. He has throughout history given people men who could decipher his word and bring the truth of God into the world. Every century from the reformation onward, God has given men to minister to the people. In the 20th Century he gave the world 2 men J. Frank Norris and Peter S. Ruckman. Norris at the first half and Ruckman at the second half. Many people will say that these were not Gods men, and a great many will say they were. I will admit that there were many great preachers in the 20th Century. I am a fan of their work, but it was these two men that were a cut above the rest. In this article we will cover J Frank Norris.

J Frank Norris was perhaps the greatest preacher of the 20th century. John Franklyn Norris was born September 18,1877 in eastern Alabama. When he was a young boy his family moved to Texas to become farmers. His father was a drunkard who would beat him viciously in drunken rages. One day when walking home from school, a group of boys whose fathers were bankers, teased him about his father being a poor drunk. This upset little John and he told his mom. She told him one day he would have nice clothes and do great things for God. One Christmas John got the Idea that we would pour out all his dad's liquor and they would have a happy Christmas. He did just that, he gathered all the liquor he could find and poured it down the drain. His dad came home that night drunk and asked "where's my liquor"? John told him that he poured it out, so they could have a happy Christmas. This enraged his father and he beat him bloody with a blunt object. His father left and the doctor came and said John probably wouldn't make it to morning. In the morning he was still alive and the doctor said he would most likely be a vegetable. Despite the odds John recovered. His dad came home sober and saw what he had done, he was crushed and begged his son for forgiveness. He begged his son to one day preach and speak out about the wickedness of alcohol. This wasn't Johns only brush with death as a boy. A group of cattle rustlers that John's father owed money too, came to the house and shot him and his dad. It took 3 years for John to recover from the incident.

John was saved at a revival in the early 1890's. Shortly thereafter he was called to preach. When his mom found out, she told him that she knew he would preach when he was 3 months old. He attended Baylor University, where he graduated with honors. He went on to earn his masters in theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he graduated valedictorian. After graduation he pastored Mckinney Avenue Baptist Church in Dallas. He eventually left to become editor of the Baptist Standard in 1907. There he started a newspaper war with the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, that would become known across the United States. This would lead to the end of race track gambling in Texas.

John would become known as the Texas tornado and the fighting fundamentalist. He fought liquor, gambling, communism/liberalism, and apostates in the church. He was either loved or hated, this always seems to be the case with God's man.

In 1909 he became the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He would remain there for 40 years. He would eventually grow the church from 900 to 12,000 people and make it the biggest church in America. He would announce his sermon topics a week in advance to create a buzz. He would preach on sensational topics and wow his audience. One such sermon he announced that their was a man in the church having an affair and he was going to name his name in church. That same day 13 men came to his office asking him not to expose them. Each of those men got right with God. Norris was a big proponent of door to door soul winning. Supporters were extremely loyal to him. He spoke the truth and they loved him for it. People called his followers Norris trouble makers. Over the years Norris grew in notoriety and would become a household name. He attracted the attention of Temple Baptist Church in in Detroit, then the second largest church in America. He was asked to take over the pastorite of the church. He prayed over the matter and God put it on his heart to pastor both churches. He would travel between both churches and people were unaware where he would be any given week. For 16 years, he would fly and travel by train between the two places.

Norris began authoring a magazine called The Searchlight. He used the publication to go after the Southern Baptist Convention, which he felt was joining with the world (how right he was). He attacked Baylor University, when they started teaching evolution. After his scathing allegations, Norris was kicked out of the SBC in 1924. He would go on to form the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement. He would also go on to form the Premillennial Missionary Baptist Fellowship to combat modernism in the SBC in the late 1930's. In 1930 he started Fort Worth Bible School. He also opened his own college.

In 1926 Norris shot and killed a man in his office who was friends with a political figure that he was quarreling with. The man came into his office screaming at him, then reached for a gun and Norris shot him. The man was unarmed, still Norris was acquitted of the charges.

Despite all of the controversy, he became America's pastor. He would advice presidents and prime ministers. He created the world largest Sunday school with the help of G.B. Vick, with over 5,000 in attendance every week. He was at the forefront of Christianity in his lifetime. John married Lillian Gady in 1902 and they had 4 kids. Norris died in 1952 while in attendance at a Florida youth camp.

I hope you enjoyed this article it was not easy to do, this man did so much in his life it's hard to organize it all. I didn't even cover a fraction of what this man did in his lifetime. I just touched on the major points. If you are not a Christian, I invite you to get saved now. Tomorrow may be to late. To get saved all you have to do, is admit that you are a sinner and that Jesus Christ died for your sins. The only way to take away sins is with the pure shed blood of Jesus Christ. Good works can not take away sins. If they could, then Jesus Christ died in vain. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead as payment for all sins. Once you believe that, you are saved forever. You did nothing to earn it and you can do nothing to lose it.

I Corinthians 15

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Romans 5

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Titus 3

5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Revelation 1

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

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