Hugh’s News & Views (Great Gospel Preachers . . . Pt. 6)

GREAT GOSPEL PREACHERS OF THE PAST

(Part 6: Batsell Barrett Baxter and Jim Bill McInteer)

Batsell Barrett Baxter (1916-1982). In the 1960s when J. D. Thomas published his series of sermons of “The Great Preachers of Today,” it is no mere coincidence that the sermons of Batsell Barrett Baxter constituted the volume that launched the series. Baxter was truly one of the great gospel preachers of our immediate past. He was born in Cordell, OK on September 23, 1916, the son of Batsell and Frances Scott Baxter. He was not a Junior, in that his father did not bear “Barrett” as a middle name, but was simply Batsell Baxter. He was baptized into Christ by his father in 1926. The elder Baxter taught at six different Christian colleges and served as president of three. He had been baptized by the great T. B. Larimore during Larimore’s famous six-months meeting in Sherman, TX. Thus, Batsell Barrett Baxter’s background and heritage in the church of our Lord was rich and deep. He was educated at David Lipscomb College, Abilene Christian College (B.A.), University of Southern California (M.A. and Ph.D.), and Vanderbilt University (M.Div.). On December 22, 1938 he married Wanda Roberts of Taft, TX and they became the parents of three sons—Scott, Alan, and John. He served as minister of churches in southern California and then in Nashville, TN where he was minister of the Hillsboro Church of Christ from 1951 to 1970 and again from 1973 to 1980. During his many years in Nashville he was a full-time faculty member at David Lipscomb College, serving first as Chairman of the Speech Department, and later, on the death of his father in 1956, as Chairman of the Bible Department. He wrote The Heart of the Yale Lectures, Speaking for the Master, and I Believe Because… Beginning in 1960, he was a regular speaker on the Herald of Truth radio and television programs. His alliterative name was a tongue twister for some. B. C. Goodpasture enjoyed telling the story of a little boy in Atlanta whose family always watched the Herald of Truth TV program on Sunday mornings before going to church. One morning the family was running a little late getting dressed for church and settled in the living room for the program. The little boy yelled out, “Y’all need to hurry and get in here, brother Bushel Barrel Basket is about to come on!” As his superb abilities became known and his influence spread, he was in demand for gospel meetings all across the nation. In 1956 he spoke in a city-wide meeting in Lubbock, TX, designated as the Lubbock Bible Forum, so named because of the desire to deal with significant religious themes in an unbiased and undenominational manner. The sermons were published in a volume titled If I Be Lifted Up. His sermon on “When a Step Backward Becomes a Step Forward” is a memorable message on the validity of the restoration principle and the restoration plea and should be read by all Christians today. His preaching took him to England, Germany, Japan, Korea, Israel, and Canada. In addition to the Lubbock meeting, he spoke in several other area-wide meetings. In 1967 he came to the Madison Street church in Clarksville, TN where I was serving as minister for an eight-day (Sunday through Sunday) gospel meeting in which 15 souls were baptized into Christ and a number were restored to the Lord. Later, when I lived in Shelbyville, TN, we had brother Baxter come for a Sunday evening county-wide meeting of all the congregations. In all of these he was magnificent in his presentations and gracious in his demeanor. In 1998, his brother-in-law, Roland D. Roberts (his wife’s younger brother), wrote a biography titled Batsell Barrett Baxter: The Man and the Message, a treasured copy of which I own and have read with much pleasure. Roland was kind enough to write a nice inscription to Jan and me and to autograph the book. Following a lengthy battle with cancer, Batsell Barrett Baxter passed from this life on March 31, 1982 at the age of 65. His funeral was conducted on April 2 at the Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville where he had preached for so many years. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville. His long-time friend, Ira North, in a tribute titled “The Influence of Batsell Barrett Baxter Flows on Like a Mighty River,” described him as a “gentle, kind, faithful and loyal servant of our blessed Lord” (Gospel Advocate, April 15, 1982). Indeed, he was!

Jim Bill McInteer (1921-2010). A volume of Jim Bill McInteer’s sermons also was included in J. D. Thomas’ “The Great Preachers of Today” series, and rightly so. Jim Bill was blessed with a silver tongue, and like Apollos, he was “an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). He was born in Franklin (Simpson County), KY on June 16, 1921, and via a family farm, maintained roots in Simpson County until his death. He enjoyed working on his farm and loved growing produce and sharing his bounty with others. At the age of 12 he was baptized into Christ by H. N. Rutherford, and began preaching in 1939. From the time he was baptized into Christ at the age of 12 until his death, brother McInteer never missed eating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday in an assembly with the people of God! He was educated at David Lipscomb College in Nashville and Harding College in Searcy, AR. In 1943 he married Betty Bergner of Kansas, and to them two children were born: Mark and Marilynn. He served churches in Arkansas, Kansas, his home congregation of Locust Grove in Simpson County, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, including the West End Church of Christ where he preached for over 30 years. He served on the Board of Harding College (later University) for many years and was secretary of the Board for most of those years. In 1948 he began serving as Business Manager of Twentieth Century Christian (now Twenty-First Century Christian) in Nashville, and also served as Business Manager of Power for Today. He also served on the Board of Potter Children’s Home in Bowling Green, KY. A lover of young people, for many years Jim Bill and Betty conducted a camp for young people each summer at Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee. He was the author of several books and of hundreds of articles in brotherhood publications. He was a prolific writer of letters, always being thoughtful of those who had extended any courtesy to him, writing them gracious letters of appreciation. Brother McInteer was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from both Harding University and Oklahoma Christian University. He was the recipient of numerous other awards for his service to the church and the community. Jim Bill gained his greatest recognition in the brotherhood of Christ through his preaching in hundreds of gospel meetings for churches large and small and for his numerous appearances on Christian college lectureships. We had him for meetings at the Fairlane Church of Christ in Shelbyville, TN and at the Skillman Church of Christ in Dallas, TX. Blessed with a charming southern accent (“Hugh, would you please pass the ‘buttuh’ ”), Jim Bill was an interesting and arresting speaker, but above all he was a faithful and able gospel preacher. We had him speak at an appreciation dinner for our Bible school teachers in Clarksville, TN and on a “Training for Service” series in Lebanon, TN. Dr. Ernest Stockton, President of Cumberland College (now University) in Lebanon, TN, though not a member of the church of Christ, had a high regard for Jim Bill and often had him speak to the students at Cumberland. (Ernest’s wife, Betty, was a faithful member of the College Street church in Lebanon where I preached and Ernest regularly attended with her on Sunday nights). One of my all-time favorite McInteer sermons is titled “The ‘Must’ Words of Jesus,” a sermon I have endeavored to preach at various times over the years. During the last several years of her life, his beloved Betty suffered from Alzheimer’s, and the care Jim Bill gave her was a thing to behold. He would dress her, apply her makeup, and take her with him to his preaching appointments as long as she was physically able to go. In this he became a great inspiration to caregivers everywhere as he lived out his promise to love her in sickness and in health until death separated them. The last years of his life were spent teaching at the Neely’s Bend Church of Christ in Madison, TN and the Heritage Church of Christ in Franklin, TN. He passed from this life on March 8, 2010, a few weeks short of his 89th birthday. He and Betty are buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in his hometown of Franklin, KY.

Hugh Fulford

February 26, 2019

Speaking Schedule:

March 4-6: Faulkner University Bible Lectureship, Montgomery, AL (speaking three times on “The Restoration Plea”).

March 9: Men’s Leadership Conference, Dalton, GA (speaking twice on “The Importance of the Restoration Movement and Its Leaders to Us Today”).

Note: There will be no “Hugh’s News & Views” next week due to being at the Faulkner University Lectures in Montgomery, AL.

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