Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Preacher Finds His Voice in the Midst of a Battle: A Lesson from the Life of George Truett

Four years ago Dr. Joel Gregory preached a chapel message at Truett Seminary that has to go down as one of the finest messages on the primacy and urgency of preaching ever delivered to prospective pastors. I was recently given a CD copy of the message and have already listened to it twice.

During the message Gregory tells an anecdote of former First, Dallas pastor George W. Truett. I had never heard the story before, but it ministered to my heart. The segment lasts about three minutes and is an invaluable lesson for all of us who preach the gospel of Christ.

George W. Truett accidentally kills his deacon.

Update: Art Pierce sent me an email this afternoon and said that back in 1951, Dr. Morton, the elderly pastor of First Baptist Church, Gatesville, Texas told Art and his wife Stella this story. Dr. Morton was a good friend of both J. Frank Norris, the head of the Fundamentalist movement in Texas, and George W. Truett, the pastor of FBC Dallas, a man Norse considered to be a 'moderate. Both Norris and Truett were active in denominational politics in the early days of Texas Baptists.

It seems that after the shooting, J. Frank Norris, himself the pastor of First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas would send to Dr. Truett a telegram every Sunday morning reminding the pastor that he had shot and killed his deacon.


Bill Scott said...

There is a time when we all have a choice to make immediately after a battle. The choice is to "keep on whining or to start shining."

When we start shining in the reflection of his marvelous light we are indeed able to find our voice.

That was a wonderful sound byte.

Anonymous said...

Joel could have taken an excerpt out of his life experiences also. I've played golf with him and there's no telling how many people he has killed on the course. But he is a hoot to be around


Michael Ruffin said...

Thanks, Wade. I suspect that lots of us need to remember that these days. said...


Gregory may be a better preacher now than before his fall from convention favor.

Chuck Bryce said...

RE: The Update

I am hoping this cannot be true. I just have a hard time believing that a man of God could do that to someone else. If it is, and I certainly would trust the credibility of a source you have confidence in, no wonder the world so often sees us and either shakes it's head or yawns.

greg.w.h said...

It's J. Frank Norris, not Norse:


(search for truett in the second one for confirmation of the comment about the weekly telegram.) said...

Thanks Greg,

Art spelled it Norse, but admitted he was not sure. I left it as he sent it, but felt it better to correct the spelling after your comment.

Alan Paul said...

We don't remember much about J. Frank what's-his-name, but of Truett, we know much. There's a lesson somewhere in that part of it too...

Jeff said...

We know much of the great pastor who followed Truett. Dr. Criswell.

Dr. Dave Holder said...


I appreciate your sharing this clip.

The story of Truett's hunting accident is true. I have newspaper articles verifying it. I am currently writing a book on Truett's life.

I also spent a week with Joel at Oxford recently. He is truly a gifted teacher and preacher. I hope to be a better preacher after studying with him.

I wonder how I could get a CD of the message?

David Holder
Sulphur, LA

Anonymous said...

Where may one find the full message from Dr. Joel Gregory? Thank you KRR

david b mclaughlin said...

Great message.

James 1:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. said...

email my secretary Barbara Ebert at and give her your address and we'll get you a copy of the tape.

Big Daddy Weave said...


J. Frank Norris has not been forgotten. Historians especially won't forget the "Texas Tornado" who is still regarded as "one of the most controversial and flamboyant figures in the history of fundamentalism."

Norris known as the "Father of Fundamentalism" heavily influenced several generations of fundamentalists most notably Jerry Falwell. J. Frank was a mean man. In his oral memoirs from the late 70's, James Dunn told a story about how J. Frank would leave rotten fruit on the doorsteps of SWBTS professors during Christmas time. One professor who received the rotten fruit was Edwin McNeely, Dunn's father-in-law and former music minister of Norris.

foxofbama said...

The larger question about which I have blogged about just today if anybody wants to take a look is: Who is carrying the mantle of Truett today.
Randall Balmer in his BJC luncheon speech and in the second Chapter of his Thy Kingdom Come makes a strong case the CBF is.
Balmer's speech in online at in the link to the Newsletter. And I have made discussion posts at my blog and
He makes strong comments about Richard Land, Karl Rove and Criswell.
At one point Balmer says in effect the legacy of Truett in the SBC has been "ransacked for a conference call with Karl Rove."

Anonymous said...

Goodness, I just listened to the clip. Wade, interesting that you would use this clip.

If I am to understand correctly, Joel Gregory compares his troubles resulting from moral failure 10 years or so ago--to George Truett's accidential shooting of his friend which result in the man's death; a man's survival of a concentration camp imprisonment; and the death of someone's daughter???

His use of those examples of preachers finding their voice in the midst of what life threw at them--is incredibly misguided.

Perhaps he should be more forthcoming about the failures which led to his fall--rather than to blame his deficiencies on others.

In view of the thread on Sen. Craig, I would think that at least he wouldn't downplay his own involvement in his moral failure to the point he compares himself to a concentration camp survivor or the great Truett. Shameful!

Great preaching should be in the context of pastoring--not just having eloquence, rhetoric and style in speaking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Wade for making available the CD of Dr Joel Gregory. The check is in the mail,really it is.
The two messages blessed my heart beyong measure. I have let some friends listen to the messages and they were moved powerfully by the Spirit. Some may criticise him but not this 73 year old retired preacher,he makes the flame in my heart burn brightly..