A thoughtful reader sent me a copy of Billy Sunday the Man and His Message by William T. Ellis and I was so astounded by how perfectly the the author sums up the negatives about Billy in his first chapter (while touting them as positives) that I wanted to share it with all of you.
To that end, I’ve done an audio recording of the first chapter.
61 thoughts on ““Billy” Sunday: The Man and His Message”
Might I be first?
Ahem, ahem: how do I get my cushion?
If one is unavailable, I am willing to have a bottle of MacAfee’s Benchmark Old #8 instead.
I like your style.
Dear His Name Wasn’t Henry Porter:
Moses, John the Baptist, Abraham Lincoln, David, Martin Luther (and whoever I’ve left out) – these men’s accomplishments all pale in comparison to Billy Sunday’s. Hmmm…
Or Jack Hyles 🙂
“The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived,” as Jack styled himself.
OF THE STAR CORPS —
WORLD’S MOST FABULOUS MAN!”
— Kenny Everett Video Show
Michelangelo; Leonardo da Vinci. The list could go on.
Listening. Darrell, you read well and have a pleasant voice.
Indeed a sonorous voice. Mellifluous as well.
Wow. I have not heard anyone praised so lavishly.
Not even my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ……….
Hubris right at the start. Billy Sunday is “God’s Man!” Compare Billy Sunday to John the Baptist! Use “big terms” to describe him.
He is lauded because he gathers big crowds and because his theology is lax. The circus atmosphere is applauded.
But what does the Scripture say?
Isaiah 42: 1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;
Fundamental reading voice – say “you killed Sean Bean you Bastaaaaaaards!”
Everyone has killed Sean Bean at some point.
Except Robert De Niro. He just embarrased Bean’s character badly and made him look stupid.
Which is probably more of an accomplishment. Considering.
There is a video compilation on YouTube titled “Sean Bean dies in every movie”. There is also “The Top Ten Sean Bean Death Scenes”, as well as the “Sean Bean death reel”. There is also “Sean Bean discusses his YouTube Death Reel and picks his favourite death! ”
Warning-they, obviously, are a bit graphic and violent. I haven’t watched any of the death reels all the way through.
Everyone except Dawn French. She would never kill Sean Bean.
Not for all the curly wurlies in the world!!! 😉
Not to distract from Darrell’s reading – yet another thing Darrell should be doing for a living – excellent reading voice
Reminded me of Epic Movie Trailer Voice:
Honest Trailer Lord of the Rings
with Bonus Sean Bean kills
That trailer is downright hilarious– and pretty accurate.
Agree, Darrell has a great speaking voice. Doing voiceovers can pay pretty good, I have a friend who has done some of that on the side to supplement his less than lucrative job.
Has anyone heard of Billy Bray? A distant relative of mine. The lowly man becoming a well known preacher was not really an American phenomena. Billy Bray was a tin miner. “I lift up one foot and it says Glory and the other says Amen.” My Grampa used to laugh about his exuberance.
Yup, “Billy Bray, the King’s Son” was almost required reading in my home at one point when I was a kid.
You don’t think Billy Ellis would ever resort to hyperbole in his treatment of Billy Sunday, do ya?
“I want to be a tool…”
Wish granted, Billy.
I’m thinking that 100 years ago it may not have had the same implications to call someone “the world’s greatest tool.”
Still was very fitting.
In any age, the moral qualities of being a tool depended upon who was using you.
Today, we don’t appreciate the mindless obedience required by religious fervor. We see tools as mindless, without a will of its own and no sense of self. Bad qualities in today’s world. But those qualities have been extolled from the pulpit. Yield, submit, obey, receive — all exhortations to passivity.
It was a world in which people were supposed to know their place, do what they were told, trust that their “betters” would look out for their interests but accept it when it didn’t happen.
One thing about Billy Sunday that I haven’t seen mentioned too often (I think I saw it one time), is that Billy Sunday’s Crusades represented a shift in the financing of Religion.
The Crusades cost money, large amounts. While the people were urged to give, the donations at the site could not adequately cover expenses. The common people simply didn’t have the money!
So someone stepped in to pay the bills. Millionaires did. But businesses also. This was the beginning of corporate sponsorship of religion. Billy preached hard that people shouldn’t drink. They should pay their bills. He was called the “Prince of the Strike Breakers” because he told girls in the garment industry they should think about their souls, not about their wages.
As with a lot of things, what was projected about Billy Sunday was not necessarily true about Billy Sunday. True, he turned down the salary of a baseball player to become a preacher. But he lived pretty well as a preacher.
In a lot of ways, “the Gospel” has become a business. No more do the moneychangers have to invade the temple. The temple has moved stock and barrel into the business district! Everything runs on money, and somehow I don’t think that was what Jesus intended.
Some of Sunday’s contemporaries certainly saw him as being in league with big business and corrupt politicians.
Here’s a cartoon from 1914:
People were converted by newspaper articles about Billy Sunday??? Hahahahahahahaha
That made me laugh as well.
Converted to what?
Now *^^that^^* is the right question!
Yes, it is.
I remember Billy Sunday being lauded in my “Evangelism” class at PCC. Actually, we talked about several evangelists. Even the teacher there had to admit that Sunday got a bit too wrapped up in money (he reportedly used to exhort the masses during the offering, “I want to hear the rustle of paper, not the clink of coins!”) For my part, I was more concerned with his essentially vapid theology. It was religious entertainment for money – I don’t really see much difference between Billy Sunday and Benny Hinn.
The difference is, Billy Sunday will never be Dark Lord of the Sith.
You cannot reference the Dark Lord of the Sith without showing his awesome power:
Pffft…I remember Mullinex calling for a “rustle offering” during a Bible conference offering…then hearing lots of loud clanks as the plates went by. I think some people got demerits for that, too.
Demerits? For giving what you can? Because it isn’t “paper”?
Greed. Gall. What a foul thing to do in the name of God!
Demanding “paper” was a pretty audacious display of greed in Sunday’s time, when one dollar was a whole day’s pay for some people.
I know this is not about her but if you ever get a chance look up his wife. Helen ‘Nell’ Sunday was the real power behind the throne. Their sons were pretty messed up…. very tragic. She apparently paid out money to have their ‘transgressions’ hushed up. That sort of thing is not new.
Here’s one account of her life….
I’m surprised Mr. Ellis could type all that with just one hand.
Doug Kutilek, refuter of KJV-Onlyism, has written reviews of two Sunday biographies here: http://www.kjvonly.org/aisi/2011/aisi_14_07_11.htm
One of them, “The Real Billy Sunday,” is also from 1914. Although the book’s author and Kutilek himself are fans of Sunday, Kutilek mentions how the book records how Sunday neglected his own family and provides some quotations to that effect.
I appreciate the link. I see that he is YEC (young-earth-creationism), which means that he is less useful to me. But I appreciated the quotes. I did not necessarily agree with all the analysis.
He has a book review on a biography of Darwin by a person from an “intelligent design” perspective. While the book bashes Darwin, he doesn’t think it bashes Darwin hard enough. For example, he doesn’t think that Darwin’s studies in the natural world had anything to do with his studies, but with his prejudices. He slams Darwin as a racist, but conveniently forgets that racism was de rigueur at the time. Nobody saw the races as “equal.” In fact, at the time Southern Baptists preachers all over the Southern US were preaching about how slavery was God’s Will. He slams Darwin for his biases, but conveniently forgets that he has his own fatal biases as well. But then, people do forget that, don’t they?
The gentleman may be against KJV-onlyism, but I see him as pretty hardcore fundamentalist otherwise.
Still, it was good to get the link and have a look. I will look at other links you put up if I see them.
Thank you for the nice words about my rendition of this. I’m using cheap equipment in an open space and doing my own directing and editing — so if the end result is pleasing then I’m happy for it.
It is pleasing. It is the quality of your voice not the recording that makes it so. Good job.
I finally had a chance to listen to the chapter. Good job, Darrell. I’ve listened to a lot of audio books over the years with my commutes and travels. Many “professional” major publisher books are not done as well.
Near the end of the chapter, the author likens Sunday’s campaigns to a circus. His point was that the circus brings the different classes of people together. I think he missed the circus analogy/comparison completely.
As a kid, after the circus we would try to stretch a rope across the yard and walk on it, attempt to do flips and somersaults over each other, and perform other imitations of the entertainment. Shortly thereafter the emotions would fade and it would be back to our regular trouble making. I do not doubt that some people were truly changed, but how many “converts” were like kids after the circus? Carried by emotion, but soon back to business as usual.
I do believe there were true converts and that lives were truly changed, but more because of the accidental use of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, who works not necessarily through, but in spite of, mere mortals seeking recognition and fame.
When I was a small child, I saw a circus where a man named “Mister Astronaut” got shot out of a cannon into a net on the other side of the tent.
I couldn’t stop talking about it for years.
Did it change my life? Well, I didn’t go into that line of work, but I still secretly want to be shot out of a cannon.
(There, I just came out.)
Billy Sunday’s type of spectacle was probably of the same type– memorable, but not putting most people on a new life path.
With the modern slang meaning of tool–there are few truer words than Billy Sunday was one of God’s tools.
But then again, the god they speak of sounds quite foolish–
“John the Baptist was God’s laugh at the Pharisees. Martin Luther was God’s laugh at the ecclesiastes” That simply doesn’t sound like the God I see in Jesus. But what do I know…I don’t use the KJV only and I am a woman.
I’ve been de-fundying my library bit-by-bit lately and TODAY I came across a first edition hardcover copy of…
“BILLY” SUNDAY THE MAN AND HIS MESSAGE!
William T. Ellis, LL.D.
Copyright, 1914, BY L.T. Myers.
I’ll be taking bids, so who’ll start out? Do I hear one hundred dollars?
…BR1 looks around to see that no one is in the room. He is all alone in his miserable seclusion of self-reflection…