Obadiah Holmes: The “Whipping Boy” of Baptists in Early America
by Ron F. Hale
Ron serves on staff of a church in his hometown of Jackson, Tenn. During the last 35 years, he has served as church planter, pastor, director of missions, and evangelism director for a state convention.
Whipping boys grew up with sons of kings in England during the 15th and 16th centuries. The notion was that kings were appointed by God; therefore, it seemed only wise that a King should whip his own son. Yet the king was very busy and gone from the castle for days at a time. Tutors of the prince dealt out punishment on the “whipping boy” instead of the prince. Since the “whipping boy” was a lifelong friend and playmate of the prince, the sight of a close friend being beaten was to ensure that the prince would behave and conduct himself according to the rules and wishes of the powers that be.
Baptists were looked down on in early America. Obadiah Holmes became the Baptist “whipping boy” on September 5, 1651 as the Puritan leaders in Boston, Massachusetts arrested him and publicly whipped him within an inch of his life. A bull whip cut through the bare back of Holmes as he took thirty vicious lashes for his Baptist convictions.
For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.
Harry Williams was a successful California pastor who became director of evangelism for the California Southern Baptist Convention. He served in this position for almost three decades. During his watch in this position great things happened among and through Southern Baptists. The Lord led Harry in many areas such as Lay Evangelism School, Disciple Ministry in churches, Lay Renewal Weekends. The most important aspect to me of Harry’s ministry was the one I was personally involved in: student led evangelism teams.
Youth led evangelism teams enlisted college and seminary students as trios of preachers, music directors and fellowship leaders. Harry’s son Steve began to witness at his school and was paired with a relatively unknown California Baptist College student at the time named Rick Warren. They constituted the first youth led evangelism team for the state convention in 1971. For more than four decades, hundreds of college and seminary students were involved in this explosive ministry.
Dr. Bob Rogers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Rincon, Ga. He earned a B.A. from Mississippi College, and an M.Div. and Th.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
When I went to high school, two things were always done before a football game: prayer and the National Anthem. Even the two or three atheists at our school looked forward to hearing the prayer because, unlike the National Anthem, the prayers were unpredictable and hard to control (kind of like God). Sometimes the prayer would be sweet and sentimental, thanking the Almighty for the nice weather and all the families represented and for apple pie and the American way. Sometimes they would be creative, such as a prayer I heard that said, “Lord, you know that life can be as tough as nails.” Most often, they would ask for safety for the players and for good sportsmanship in the stands and on the fields. There was one unwritten rule: nobody ever prayed for their team to win. That is, until I went to homecoming at Mississippi College.