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Apparent Danger  

The Pastor of America's First Megachurch

and the Texas Murder Trial of the Decade in the 1920's


by David Stokes

Apparent Danger - David Stokes

            Ft. Worth, Texas, in the early years of the 20th century, is still trying to live up to its Cow Town image.  It is in this setting in 1909 that J. Frank Norris arrives as the new pastor of the First Baptist Church.  Over the years, he builds the First Baptist Church into the first mega church, with over 10,000 members.  With its own newspaper and radio station, the church is a major showcase for the Fundamentalist Movement.  Along the way, J. Frank Norris makes powerful enemies.  At the height of his career, in 1926, J. Frank Norris shoots and kills a man in his church office.  Apparent Danger tells the rest of the story.

            Throughout the Bible, it is obvious that God works through men of flawed character. Three of God’s most influential warriors were men who were guilty of murder–Moses, King David, and Paul the Apostle.  The author of Apparent Danger goes to great lengths to point out J. Frank Norris’s character flaws while minimizing his accomplishments, but if one reads between the lines, it becomes clear that God is working through J. Frank Norris despite his flaws.

            David Stokes skillfully tells the story of the rise and fall of J. Frank Norris. Apparent Danger is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Southern Baptists in Texas.  It is a fascinating read for anyone who loves to curl up with a murder mystery, for in this case truth really is stranger than fiction.


Book Review by

Carrol D. Cagle, MD  


Cover Art:  Apparent Danger, David Stokes, Published by Bascom Hill Books copyright 2010.