It would be an interesting map if all the various influences on a person’s life throughout his life could be shown graphically. Each individual and event would have to be weighted to signify just how much influence was there, among other things. As I say, it is an interesting thought, but maybe not practical as there is so much influence in a person’s life the task might be too great. But I want to continue the thought I began last week and identify some (and I stress “some”) preachers who have made a lasting impact on me.
Some of the men of which I speak, I never met personally. One of the greatest influences on me was Foy E. Wallace, Jr. I was influenced first of all by his writings. His books, like “A Review of the Versions,” “Number One Gospel Sermons,” “Bulwarks of the Faith,” “The Gospel for Today,” were books that I read very early on after my conversion. They helped me to see a way of thinking about the scriptures I had not considered. Then I came across the only recordings that still exist and I love to hear him him preach. In his debates with errorists and his defense of the truth through his editorship of the Gospel Advocate he did immense good. He made a great impact on me as well as on the brotherhood.
Another man who influenced my thinking greatly was Thomas B. Warren. Brother Warren had studied philosophy and logic and, in my opinion, there was not his equal in logical thinking and clear reasoning in the brotherhood. His debates with Antony Flew and Wallace Matson were great examples of his reasoning ability and great victories for the cause of Truth. His books, like “The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians,” are classics of Christian reasoning and defense of the Truth. His writing is not the flowery or showy type so often seen today but it is clear and rational and scriptural. We need more men like him who are unashamed to stand for the truth and are equally able to defend it.
Brother Garland Elkins has also had a profound impact upon me. I can listen to brother Elkins preach for hour on end and never grow tired. His nimble recollection of scripture and his meek but forceful presentation of the truth and defense of it are a pattern for me in my preaching, though I fall far short of his example. His lessons are filled with book, chapter and verse preaching and quotation of scripture, but they also contain the occasional anecdote that brings the point home. He has a great sense of humor, as well. I remember on one occasion in Kentucky when he was encouraging others to attend the Spiritual Sword lectureship, he said “You want to go to heaven, don’t you!” Every young preacher ought to listen to his sermons and learn from them.
Brother Robert Taylor has also been a good example to me and of those that love the word. His dedication to the study and memorization of the scriptures should be taught to every young gospel preacher. Brother Taylor is also a prolific writer. His writings should be in every, Every EVERY library of every faithful gospel preacher and every faithful church. His work on the defense of the King James version of the Bible is in the same category as brother Foy E. Wallace’s works on that subject. As an aside, I remember on one occasion my brother and I were waiting in a hotel room for the next session of a lectureship to start and, to pass the time, we played basketball in the hotel room with the trash can and a wad of paper. We made a little noise. As we went out of the hotel room brother Taylor was coming out of the room next to us. I always wandered if and worried that we disturbed him.
Another brother who made an impression on not only me but also the whole brotherhood was Guy N. Woods. Brother Woods was a first-class Bible scholar and his commentaries are second to none. I only made it to hear him preach in person once, but I relished the opportunity! If you disagree with bother Wood’s position on a passage, you had better thought out your reason very clearly and scripturally. His voice and preaching style were distinctive. There will never be another Guy N. Woods.
The instructors at the Memphis School of Preaching also had an important impact upon me. Brother Cates’ tireless work ethic and brother Curry’s knowledge of history impressed me greatly. Brother Renshaw and brother Hearns will always be remembered, as well. But of all the instructors there, brother Keith Mosher, Sr. stands out the most to me. The quality which most impresses me about brother Mosher is his ability to teach. To this day whenever I hear brother Mosher speak, I still learn something I never knew before. Jesus, of course, was the Master Teacher and so teaching is an important part of the preacher’s work. Brother Mosher does this as well as anyone I have ever heard. He is always a favorite of the students at the school.
Brother Gary Colley is another great gospel preacher who has influenced me. He has a tremendous knowledge of God’s word and is such a Christian gentleman. He has a great sense of obligation to the Lord. I recall on one occasion he was scheduled to speak at a congregation which had fellowshiped those who were in error. Even though the event had been scheduled, and even though it meant a loss for him in several ways, he wrote the brethren there and told that he could not, under those circumstances, hold the meeting for them. He chose to stand for the truth rather than to enjoy the accolades of a few unfaithful brethren. That example still stands out to me as a great example of Christian courage.
There are so many others I wish I could mention. I know I have left out many others. Brother Roy Deaver, Wayne Coats, Wayne Jackson, Ira Rice, Jr., Franklin Camp, William Cline, Frank Starling, O. B. Porterfield, Dean Fugett, Dub McClish, Johnny Ramsey, Ben Vick, Jr., H. A. Buster Dobbs, Bill Jackson, Gus Nichols, H. Leo Boles, J. W. McGarvey, Earl Geiseke, J. Noel Meridith, all the great restoration preachers, and on and on the list could go. These men are deserving of honor, not just for their influence on me, of course, but for the work they have done and continue to do for the Lord. It is my prayer that Christians everywhere have good, sound influences on them and honor those who do influence them for the right.
Eric L. Padgett