Guest editorial by Ed Smithson

Years ago I was attending a daytime speech at a college lectureship. A fresh PhD had taken the podium and told us that, today, all preachers must have a Master’s and preferably a PhD.

I wanted to jump up and challenge him. On the podium with him at the time were two preachers who had done great works in the kingdom: one had only a high school education and the other was brother who had, as I remember, a third-grade education.

James O. Baird was president of the college at the time, and he took the lectern and told how much our pioneering preachers had done to bring us where we are today. I was never more proud of brother Baird than I was then.

Only eternity will reveal the amount of gratitude we owe those who have preceded us. Without their courage, endurance and sacrifices, we would not enjoy the status we do today.

I remember my dad mentioning men well known in Missouri and Arkansas, like Joe Warlick, Joe Blue and others. Then there were the preachers, most of them who at one time, earned their living by farming or hard physical labor during the week and preached for churches on Sunday for almost nothing.

John Rodgers would leave his family and farm and hold meetings for months at a time, returning home with little more than when he left.

Can you see our modern-day preachers doing that today? I think I know some who would if they had to, they want to preach that much.

What about David Lipscomb, who along with Tolbert Fanning began the Gospel Advocate, which is still published in Nashville today, and the Nashville Bible School he started (now Lipscomb University). In the early years they turned out gospel preachers.

Or what about brother N.B. Hardeman, the Tennessee Orator, who along with A.G. Freed, started Freed-Hardeman College which still operates in Henderson, Tenn. Both men were strong believers in the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures and great preachers in their own right.

In my own lifetime I think of men like Roy H. Lanier, Sr., my first Bible teacher in college, and what he did that has meant to the brotherhood for years. He began the preacher school at Bear Valley in Denver which still turns out preachers today.

I also remember men like E.R. Harper, who was speaker on the “Herald of Truth” radio program in its early day; Gus Nichols and Franklin Camp who were great students of the Bible; and Marshal Keeble, who worked long and hard and suffered things we will never know, because he dared to preach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”

These are certainly not the only ones and I am sure you can think of many others. These men blazed the trails for us and we have it much easier than they, because of the work they did.

Preachers today are being better treated, better housed and better paid, because of what these and others have done before us.

God bless them and their memories, for they, like Abel “being dead, yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).
Published Apr. 15 in Ed’s “Frankly Speaking Notes” through his website Old Paths Pulpit, and used with his permission.