Ed. note: Dr. James
Crumpton pastored the Westside Baptist Church in Natchez, Mississippi from
1947 to 1998. For over 50 years he was a staunch defender of the faith, a
preacher extraordinaire, and a founder of the Maranatha Baptist Mission.
Maranatha was organized in 1961 and was a pioneer Mission organization
started to send missionaries independent of the Southern Baptist
Convention. Over 100 men surrendered to preach under Dr. Crumpton, nearly
300 went to the mission field. [THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST POSTED ON
"CUTTING EDGE" IN DECEMBER OF 2000]
Dr. Crumpton with
incomparable R. G. Lee
at the time of the 1958
It was one of those great things in
life that after it was over, you had to remind yourself, "It really
down to Natchez, Mississippi to interview Dr. James Crumpton, longtime
servant of God and pioneer in the Independent Baptist movement. I went for
several reasons: 1. I felt the need to meet this man whom I had heard so
many wonderful things about through the years. The mission board Dr.
Crumpton founded was the sending board of
Larry and Betty Parshall, missionaries to Australia from our church. 2. I
have been doing some writing on Baptist history and Dr. Crumpton is a
living history of our movement in the 20th Century.
Crumpton has been friends of R.G. Lee, Lee Roberson, Jack Hyles, Mordeci
Ham, J. Harold Smith, Percy Ray, W. A. Criswell and a host of other
fundamental Baptists in this century.
under P. H. Anderson, W. W. Hamilton and J. W. Watts at Baptist Bible
Institute (Now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) and ran with the
likes of Art Wilson and E. C. Sheehan.
Crumpton's son, James Jr. happened to be in Natchez when I was able to
come down and helped me with some of the details of his father's life and
ministry. Although I felt that Dr. Crumpton was fairly sharp, his family
sees a decline in his health and
the effects of aging settling in. He is now in his early 80's.
I was struck with his dignity. I recalled
how George Dollar in his book, A History of Fundamentalism
...dependable, gracious, hardworking...
He began to tell about his salvation and call to
preach. Fork Shoal Baptist Church in South Carolina was the place of his
salvation. The year was 1935 and within a few days he surrendered to
preach. All of this was under the leadership of a liberal pastor.
Dr. Crumpton went to Furman University, and
finished but he could remember well the faculty making fun of the
standards of the word of God. He decided to head to New Orleans and study under
the Bible believing bunch at Baptist Bible Institute.
I asked a few pointed questions and I soon
arrived at the destination of Natchez, Mississippi where our soldier
stayed in the trenches for over 50 years.
My main curiosity had to do with his becoming an
independent. How did he "become" a fundamentalist? We second
generation independent fundamental Baptists
are always wondering about that. We think in terms of being separated as a
conscious choice consisting of walking away from the body that is
offending and insulting the word of God.
I wanted to know how he left the Convention, or
was he kicked out? When did he walk away and why? There had to be a definite
time and place.
Well, I couldn't get a definitive answer. However, the real answer was better than the one
I was dreaming about.
The Crumptons were not in contact with very many
"independents". In those days they were few. But the believers
in the convention were raising a ruckus inside the house of the SBC. They
conferenced, they preached, they exposed the seminaries, they made the status
quo pretty mad. And then the co-operative program came along. Dr. Crumpton
said that the
SBC was a group of independent churches until the co-operative program
made you a Southern Baptist by monetary co-operation. That monetary
co-operation mostly had to do with missions.
The truth of the waste of money from the
co-operative program was laid bare by a Brazilian missionary who revealed
in a sermon preached at another church, that only 3 cents on every dollar
given ever got to the missionary on the field.
If you couple that realization with the SBC
missions denial of Mel Rutter to go to South America, and you understand
the birth of Maranatha missions.
Mel Rutter would have stayed home against the
call of God, if Westside Baptist Church and Dr. James Crumpton, had not
acted independently to begin their own mission board. The result:
Maranatha Missions was founded It was started out of necessity, so that
the will of God could be obeyed and that God's finances would not be
James Crumpton, Jr. told me, "my father
never set out to be an independent, fundamental Baptist. He just stood for
the truth of the Bible and that's how he got labeled."
I see now that
that is exactly what a "fundamentalist" is. I see now that that
is how we become what we become...by being what the Bible tells us to be.