Thursday, June 01, 2006

Brooks on Billy Sunday

In 1925, Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks got the chance to hear Billy Sunday, the famous professional baseball player who became a fiery evangelist. In this account, Brooks gives his opinion of Sunday's signature preaching style.


Baylor Head Heard Noted Evangelist in Nashville Last Week

Waco Times-Herald
Feb. 9, 1925

The gymnastical religion of Billy Sunday, world famous evangelist, was described to Baylor students at Monday morning chapel services by President S.P. Brooks, who heard Mr. Sunday preach several times last week in Nashville, where Dr. Brooks attended the meeting of the American Association of Religious Colleges.

"Truett and Sunday are both classed among the leading preachers of America," Dr. Brooks said. "But these two men are as widely different in their methods as men could be.

"Billy Sunday has perfect physical control, and a wonderful physique. It is said that he carries along his own physical instructor. He uses gymnastics in his gestures, and he uses them like he did when he was a big league baseball pitcher before he was converted. When he extends his hand in pointing toward some object, he winds up like he was throwing a ball, and when his hand comes forth, it does so with a great deal of force and vigor."

Dr. Brooks said that when Mr. Sunday was in the midst of some of his sermons he would climb into a chair, put one foot in the chair and the other in the pulpit and from there shout at the top of his voice his appeal. He said that when Mr. Sunday prayed he tilted his head back, stood erect, and at the top of his voice shouted his supplications to God.

He spoke in the city auditorium at Nashville, and according to Dr. Brooks great crowds heard him nightly. Mr. Sunday took up collections in tin wash pans, Dr. Brooks said.

Dr. Brooks declared that although Mr. Sunday had done, and was still doing a marvelous amount of good, he believed that the old way of telling the plain gospel story would in the long run prove more effective than the sermons supplemented with feats of gymnastical skill.

Dr. Brooks is the president of the American Association of Religious Colleges, and is serving his second term in this capacity. He said that while away, he was ill for a short time.

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