The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967 Page: 348
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
talist (capital F) preacher concedes that his exciting book is not
strictly a biography; it is "rather a study of J. Frank Norris as 'the
Preacher.' " To one who knew the man long and well the account
reads like a carefully selected series of episodes, more like a news-
paper profile, intended to arouse admiration and sympathy for
a mighty man of valor.
The Introduction says: "That Norris felt himself a prophet
in his own time, a reformer of his own denomination, an heir to
the Puritans, and a preacher in the order of Spurgeon, Wycliff,
and Luther, cannot be denied." Yet strangely in the middle of the
book is the statement that "Norris in 1911 was continuously
wrestling with the problem of giving up the ministry in despair."
The offered explanation is that Norris, then pastor of the strong
First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, was in deep trouble. He had
boldly attacked public officials, prominent business men, and
the top leaders of his denomination. Such men as Dr. George
W. Truett, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Dr. L. R.
Scarborough of Southwestern Seminary, and the President of
Baylor University, evidenced by record, distrusted and detested
him; while the giant Dr. B. H. Carroll, who had predicted a
brilliant career for the young preacher when beginning at Mt.
Calm and stepping up to the McKinney Avenue Church, Dallas,
had because of Norris' sensationalism withdrawn from him.
At the same time grand juries had returned indictments
against the man for perjury, arson, and later for murder. In
spectacular court trials he gained acquittals. The Tarrant County
Baptists and The Baptist General Convention of Texas expelled
him, and Southern Baptists endured his counter meetings. But
armed with a powerful apparatus of pulpit, radio, and The Search-
light, he kept up his aggressive attacks; formed his own denomi-
nation of splinter groups here and there, a few of which persist
twenty years after his passing.
The author describes with gusto Norris' feat of pastoring simul-
taneously First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, and Temple Baptist,
Detroit, both of which grew rapidly in numbers. Indeed, he
quotes from Norris' astronomical numbers, audiences larger than
addressed by any preacher in the history of America, an asser-
tion easily disproved.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967, periodical, 1967; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/m1/366/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.