Gregg Olsen’s If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

912DMUya5aLThis will be a relatively brief review. I saw someone reference this book on Twitter (I believe) and decided to listen to the Audible version. It was equal parts enthralling and horrific…but more horrific than enthralling. If You Tell is the story of abusive mother Shelly Knotek and her three daughters as well as the other unfortunate souls who found themselves pulled into the orbit of her manipulation, abuse, and even murder. The book is very upsetting and very difficult to get through. I was consistently outraged and amazed at the depths of Knotek’s cruelty.

Even so, as someone who does pastoral counseling, I am glad I was exposed to this story. If nothing else, it reminded me yet again to try to listen to what people are saying behind what they are saying and, of course, to take cries for help very seriously! My gosh, these girls went through hell on earth, as did, again, her other victims.

If there is a positive, it is the unbelievable courage, strength, and resolve of the three daughters, all of whom survived Knotek’s vicious wickedness. What is more, it did remind me of the astonishing ability that a strong and twisted personality can have to dominate and psychologically crush and torture others. Truly chilling.

A warning: there are probably lots of folks who will find this book too upsetting and too frightening to get through, with good reason. I would think that pastors, teachers, counselors, and those who work with young people and families could draw some important lessons and cautions from this book. I did…but it was tough gleaning.

Luke 1:26-38

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Luke 1

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

In the middle of the 20th century, the British poet John Betjeman wrote a famous poem about Christmas. In the poem, he reflects on his memories of Christmas: the decorations, the glow of fires, family and friends gathering to celebrate, the bustle of shops and commerce, the festivities. But after listing all of these nice memories of the trappings of Christmas and as he approaches the conclusion of the poem he pivots to a question:

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ?…[1]

He goes on to conclude that if the answer is yes, and if, in fact, “this most tremendous tale” is true, then nothing can compare to that fact.

I like that. And I agree. If the Christmas story is true, if it actually happened as the scriptures say, then all the things we love about Christmas pale in comparison to the truthfulness of the story.

“And is it true?…And is it true?”

The scriptures answer Yes! And the account of the annunciation, of the angel’s announcement to Mary in Luke 1, bears this fact out.

Charles Erdman wrote in 1929 that the verses of our passage constitute “the crown of all prophecy and…reveal…the supreme mystery of the Christian faith, namely, the nature of our Lord, at once human and divine.”[2] I like that too! That too is true!

Let us consider this true and amazing story.

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Matthew 15:1-9

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Matthew 15

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,”he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

We can define legalisms as extra-biblical rules that, over time, can take on the air of divine commandments, though they are not. R. Kent Hughes has written of a fascinating example of legalism:

Dr. Howard Hendricks has remarked that he grew up in a legalistic home where the use of fingernail polish was enough to condemn one to Hell.  He said, “I repudiated legalism intellectually and theologically in 1946, but in 1982 I am still wrestling with it emotionally.” Extra-biblical restrictions take their toll.[1]

This is a great example. Somewhere along the line somebody read the biblical calls for modesty. Fingernail polish, it was determined, must be vanity and therefore a violation of biblical modesty. Thus, fingernail polish becomes a sin. Over time, this legalism, based on a very shaky premise (not, I hasten to add, biblical modesty but rather the premise that fingernail polish must be a violation of it) takes on the added weight of tradition. When this happens, there is not even the alleged biblical argument anymore, but rather simply the appeal to, “It just is!” or “Christians have known this for a long time, why don’t you?!”

To dismantle a faulty tradition, one must push against the canonizing power of time as well as the flawed premise behind the original argument. In the case of fingernail polish, that would look like this:

  • The fact that our tradition has said that fingernail polish is a sin for a long time does not make it a sin.
  • Why should we think that fingernail polish violates the call for modesty anyway? Why should we conclude that it always does?

Matthew 15 begins with Jesus being confronted with one such faulty tradition. I say “faulty” tradition because not all traditions are faulty. Some are good. Some are healthy. In fact, it may be more precise to say that tradition, in and of itself, seen simply as a shared memory, is healthy but traditionalism, meaning the weighty enforcement of “the way we do things” is unhealthy. Jaroslav Pelikan once defined tradition as “the living faith of the death” and traditionalism as “the dead faith of the living.” Seen in this light, what Jesus is pushing against in Matthew 15 is traditionalism, defined as tradition-off-the-rails!

In keeping with the language of our text, let us critique faulty tradition, flawed tradition, Pelikan’s traditionalism. We will do so in terms of “tradition maintenance” or “keeping up faulty and dangerous traditions.”

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Revelation 22

Revelation

Revelation 21

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” 12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

When we began this sermon series through Revelation thirty-four sermons ago I proposed the following as a thesis statement for the book:

Revelation reveals the victory of Jesus Christ and how that victory, culminating in Christ’s return, can embolden the faith and endurance of the church today in the fallen world order.

I trust our journey through this amazing book has confirmed the validity of that statement. We might summarize it like this: Jesus wins and, because of that, His people need never despair. But it is not just that we need not despair. It also means that we can joyfully live out the life of Christ as His bride in the world today, even in the midst of difficulties, because His victory is sure and, through it, our victory is sure as well. The final chapter of Revelation, the final chapter of the Bible, bears this truth out.

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Revelation 21

Revelation

Revelation 21

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

I almost entitled this sermon, “Everything You Think About Heaven is Wrong.” Randy Alcorn once gave an unsettling example of this dynamic:

A pastor once confessed to me, “Whenever I think about Heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I can’t stand the thought of all that endless tedium. To float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp . . . it’s all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn’t sound much better than Hell. I’d rather be annihilated than spend eternity in a place like that.”[1]

Well. That is a strange thing to say, to be sure, especially for a pastor! But, mostly, it is sad. It is sad because that pastor’s words are predicated on such an avoidable misunderstanding. Let us consider what Revelation 21:1-8 tells us as we begin to approach this important issue. We will do so by considering three images present in Revelation 21:1-8.

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Matthew 14:22-26

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Matthew 14

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Recently a new movie version of Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece, Dune, was released. It has brought renewed attention to this fascinating story. One of the most famous quotes from the book—probably the most famous—is the “Litany against Fear” from the Bene Gesserit rite, that is recited by the character Paul. Paul, facing a frightening challenge, tells himself that he must not fear and then recites the Litany:

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.[1]

I like this. It is poetic and powerful. As a general truth it has force and the ring of truth about it. And yet, in Dune, it is presented as a somewhat solitary litany, something that we might actualize if we try hard enough. The latter half of Matthew 14 mentions fear more than once. It confirms some of what the “Litany against Fear” asserts, yet it says more: that it is in viewing Christ rightly and understanding His power that we are able to overcome fear, the mind-killer and the faith-killer.

In this text, the disciples likewise find themselves facing a daunting challenge. They find themselves afraid in the midst of crisis. But it is in the midst of this crisis that Jesus shows up most powerfully and with great faith-building results!

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Revelation 20:11-15

Revelation

Revelation 20

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

A throne. And books. Everything has been working toward this great moment. All of life, indeed all of history, comes down to this.

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Revelation 20:1-10

Revelation

Revelation 20

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

On September 6, 1934, the following headline appeared on the front page of The New York Times: “HITLER FORECASTS NO REICH OVERTURN IN NEXT 1,000 YEARS; Proclamation to Nazi Congress Says Movement Won’t Yield No Matter What Happens.”

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It begins:

NUREMBERG, Sept. 5. — Chancellor Adolf Hitler today proclaimed the arrival of the Nazi millennium, predicting that the next 1,000 years would not witness another revolution in Germany. He was equally positive that the National Socialist movement had now become absolute master of the Reich and that its leadership rested in the hands of its best men.[1]

Hitler and his followers referred to Nazi Germany as the “Third Reich.” (“Reich” is the German word for “realm.”) The Third Reich is a term that is widely known today. The Holy Roman Empire (800-1806) was the First Reich and the German Empire (1871-1918) was the Second Reich. But Hitler was seen as ushering in the Third Reich. It had another name: the “Thousand-Year Reich.” The idea of “a Thousand-Year Reich” (Tausendjähriges Reich) was an idea which “was inspired explicitly by the millennial reign of the saints prophesied in Revelation.”[2]

How fascinating. How tragic. Hitler prophesied a millennial Nazi reign, a thousand years of German utopian rule. But he was wrong. Very wrong. The so-called Third Reich would last just over a decade and it was marked not by a utopian golden age but rather by horror, by violence, by pain, and by a deep wounding that lingers among humanity to our very day.

In Revelation 20, however, we find the exact opposite. We find a prophesied coming millennial reign quite different from Hitler’s prophesy. Revelation foretells a coming thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints on the earth after the battle of Armageddon. It will be ruled by Jesus Christ and the devil will be imprisoned during it. Wickedness will cease and there will indeed be a utopian age of peace.

The idea of the millennium, found only here in Revelation, has proved unbelievably controversial. For the record, I would consider myself a premillennialist, by which I mean that Jesus returns before a millennial reign. The idea of some kind of a millennial reign for the Messiah was actually a Jewish concept. Leon Morris writes:

The idea of a messianic reign was congenial to Jewish thought. In 4 Ezra 7:28 the Messiah is said to be with his people for 400 years and Strack-Billerbeck draw attention to estimates varying from forty years (R. Akiba) to 7,000 years (R. Abbahu), with Rabbi Eliezer, usually dated c. AD 90, speaking of 1,000 years (S Bk, iii, p. 824).[3]

I also agree with John Newport that millennialism was the “early church view.”[4]

To be frank, I am not overly concerned about whether or not the number 1,000 is taken literally or symbolically here. Leon Morris argues for the latter.

We should take this symbolically. One thousand is the cube of ten, the number of completeness. We have seen it used over and over again in this book to denote completeness of some sort and John is surely saying here that Satan is bound for the complete time that God has determined.[5]

He may have a point. The number of ten is frequently used in apparently symbolic ways throughout Revelation. Consider:

  • “for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death…” (2:10)
  • “The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand…” (9:16)
  • “behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns…” (12:3)
  • “a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns…with ten diadems on its horns” (13:1)
  • “a scarlet beast…and it had seven heads and ten horns” (17:3)
  • “and the ten horns that you saw are ten kings…” (17:12)

And yet, on the other hand, Danny Akin points out that “[n]ever in Scripture when the word year is used with a number is its meaning not literal.”[6]

This seems less important to me than the idea of the millennium itself. Let us consider what this means. We will consider it first with a focus on what it means for Satan and then on what it means for the church.

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Review: In the Name of God: The Colliding Lives, Legends, and Legacies of J. Frank Norris and George W. Truett

743196_1_ftcIn the Name of God is a simply fantastic book for which O.S. Hawkins is to be commended. As a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the late 1990s I heard first the name of J. Frank Norris. What I heard was largely negative but nonetheless enthralling: that he had shot a man in his office and gotten away with it, that he was theatrical (preaching to a monkey about evolution, announcing he would out the affair of a prominent Ft. Worth business man from the pulpit only to have a number of businessmen call him and confess, etc.), that he was a fiery fundamentalist, that he started his own Bible college, and that he was the arch-nemesis of L.R. Scarborough, president of Southwestern Seminary after B.H. Carroll. That’s it. Oh, and that his church burned down a time or two under unusual circumstances and he was able to build bigger sanctuaries with the insurance money. I knew even less about Truett, though all of it was positive: that he was the legendary pastor of First Baptist Dallas for half a century and that…well, that’s probably about it! Now, all of that has changed!

In the capable hands of O.S. Hawkins the full story is told. The book served to help this reader have a better and somewhat more positive understanding of Norris and a better and somewhat more negative view of Truett…which is simply to say that I see them both now as men of great gifts and great weaknesses, as human beings and not as caricatures. (The same can be said for this book’s effect on my understanding of Scarborough.)

Norris was the pastor of FBC Ft. Worth. Truett was the pastor of FBC Dallas. Hawkins does a very good job of showing how both men were symbols of the respective cities back in the day: Norris being more uncouth, more fiery, more “Wild West,” if you will, and Truett being more polished, more cultured, more “uptown,” if you will. There is some interesting history of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in this book that I found helpful.

For the men themselves, both were amazing preachers who built huge churches to some extent on the force of their personalities but also in evidence of the hand of God on their lives. Both did amazing and helpful things for their communities…and both were, at times, their own worst enemies. They were also each other’s enemies, tragically, and maneuvered against each other in different ways. I was intrigued and saddened by how Truett would use and manipulate others to attack Norris publicly and by how Norris’ anger and paranoia would cause him to lash out eventually at even his own son. Both were men of ego and both, by all account, truly did love the Lord.

Hawkins’ account of how Southwestern Seminary ended up in Ft. Worth and of how Norris played such a big role in bringing that about was interesting. I had never heard that story. His account of the radio attacks on Norris that were orchestrated behind the scenes by Truett was likewise fascinating. I kept thinking that if Twitter had been around in that time it would have sounded just like Twitter does today, with ministers sniping and attacking each other to our own shame and detriment. Hawkins’ suggestion that Norris’ attack on Scarborough was possibly fueled by Scarborough, not Norris, getting the presidency of Southwestern after the death of Carroll was enlightening.

The absolute saddest parts of the book were (1) Norris’ lamentable behavior toward his son when his son was supposed to take over First Baptist Ft. Worth and (2) the possibility that Truett’s wife forbade Truett’s requested deathbed meeting with Norris for reconciliation from happening. That was heartbreaking to read about, though Truett’s request to meet Norris was laudable. Similarly, the deathbed reconciliation between Norris and Scarborough was touching.

As for Hawkins’ assessment of how the legacies of these men play into and impact the current milieu of the Southern Baptist Convention, the reader will have to make his or her own determination as to the usefulness and accuracy of Hawkin’s evaluation and conclusions. Regardless, it is an interesting question to ponder and Hawkins’ book will help you in making your own evaluations even if they differ from his own.

This is a cautionary tale and should be read by all pastors today and church attenders today. It is a tale about how ego can undercut our ministries and about how competition can undercut our ministerial friendships. It is a tale about unfettered ambition and the ruthlessness it can usher in. Perhaps more than anything it is a tale about how a good God can use deeply flawed people to accomplish great things.

Great, great book! Get it!

“Currents, Method, and Tendencies in The Collected Writings of James Leo Garrett Jr.: 1950-2015” (ETS presentation audio)

Here is audio of my November 16, 2021, presentation at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Fort Worth, Texas.