He Blazed Trails for Higher Education

     As I have pondered the many leaders of Missionary Baptist ministries during the past decades, numerous names came to mind. This week I was just thinking about Dr. D.N. Jackson.

     Doss Nathan Jackson was the youngest of 12 children. He was born in Balch (Jackson County), Ark. on July 14, 1895.

     I first met Dr. Jackson when I was 11 years old. What impressed me most was his amazing memory. He preached a five night revival at Central Baptist Church in Ashdown. Each night he would take his Bible to the pulpit, but he never opened it.  He would quote his text — usually full chapters — and every additional scripture he used was quoted from memory. He was an amazing man with an amazing memory!

     Dr. Jackson became another of my mentors in ministry when I was pastor of First Baptist Church of Wallace, near Foreman, Ark. I was privileged to be pastor to some of his family whom he often visited, and I benefited from those visits. As a result of some great times of conversation, I gained some helpful insights from the wise Dr. Jackson.

     The best advice he gave me was simply: “Be yourself. Never try to be someone else” — a simple, but extremely wise admonition. Dr. Jackson was one who blazed trails for higher education among associational Baptists.

     At age 23, he was a young pastor with the General Association of Baptists in the United States and was also elected as editor-in-chief of the Baptist Sunday School Committee. Various state and regional associations of Missionary Baptists began to unify, and that resulted in the formation of the American Baptist Association (ABA). The young editor helped draft the constitution of the new association of churches.

     Dr. Jackson held the editorial position from 1924-1937. He also served as president of the ABA from 1935-1937.

     He was a prolific writer during his ministry. In 1926, he and his friend, Ben M. Bogard, wrote Evolution: Unscientific and Unscriptural. In addition to numerous other publications, Dr. Jackson wrote Studies in Baptist Doctrines and History.

     The friendship of Jackson and Bogard deteriorated over the years. They differed on perspectives of representation of churches at the national meeting. Escalation of that resulted in a split when the ABA met in Lakeland, Fla. in 1950.

     Dr. Jackson later wrote The Lakeland Review: A True Account of What Happened at Lakeland, Florida, April 19-20, 1950. (Editor’s Note: Although we were unable to find Dr. Jackson’s article, a similar one, written by Dr. Ronald Mitchell appears on this page.)

     It was D.N. Jackson who, with others, led in the formation of the North American Baptist Association, which is today the Baptist Missionary Association of America. Although he was never elected president of the BMAA, he did serve as one of the vice-presidents in 1955.

     Dr. Jackson was ordained Sept. 2, 1913 at the age of 18, and he pastored 14 churches during his ministry. His last pastorate was the First Baptist Church of Mixon, Texas (now the First Missionary Baptist Church.) Over the years of his ministry, Dr. Jackson participated in 162 formal debates with leaders from other denominations.

     In 1952, Southeastern Baptist College in Mississippi was organized with Dr. Jackson as its first president. He later led in the purchase of the campus that is now Central Baptist College in Conway and also served as CBC’s first president.

     The man was truly a trailblazer for higher education among Baptists. He was instrumental in the development of what is today the BMA Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Texas. From 1955-1967, he served there as professor of theology and church history.

     The man from the tiny community of Balch, Ark. spent his last years in Oklahoma City, where he was president of Midwestern Baptist College. He died at the age of 73 on Nov. 29, 1968.

     I was just thinking — how many have followed the trails blazed by Doss Nathan Jackson?

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