J. D. Tant – Texas Preacher, Fanning Yater Tant
One of the more colorful preachers to read about is J. D. Tant (1861-1941) who was born during the Civil War. He was a great proclaimer of New Testament Christianity and an example of the great sacrifices many made for the cause of Christ. Reading this biography about brother Tant will astonish a person today to see the degree of sacrifices made by those during the pioneer days.
The book is filled with stories you will want to read over and over. My favorite part of the book is to read about the various humorous encounters J. D. Tant had during his life. In fact, so many stories existed in and out of the book that one of the chapters of this book is entitled “I Never Deny Anything They Tell On Me.” Basil Overton in the World Evangelist relayed one of my favorite stories about Tant. This story is a sample of others you will find in the book. You can just feel the angst from the person who shouts at Tant.
“A church did not believe baptism was essential to salvation told him he could preach in a revival meeting for them if he would not mention baptism. Brother Tant agreed to do it, and some of the members of the church of Christ thought he had lost his mind. At the conclusion of his first sermon in the revival while brother Tant was explaining God’s plan of salvation, he said, ‘Jesus said go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and does what I am not supposed to mention in this revival will be saved.’ He did the same with several other New Testament passages on baptism and finally some leader in the church spoke loudly to brother Tant and said, ‘Go ahead and say baptism!’” (World Evangelist, 12/97, p. 4).
One of the facts that impressed me is how brutal conditions were and how rough those of the denominations could be as well. It is said that brother Tant went into the pulpit and stated he brought two deacons with him to help keep the peace while he preached. He promptly laid to revolvers on top of the pulpit. The book is truly exciting reading. You will laugh and nearly cry from the laughter and tears.
One of the lessons we need to remember arises from the mistreatment brother Tant received from the hands of the brethren. Brother Tant kept on preaching despite numerous setbacks. Hopefully the book will inspire congregations to a greater attention to the care of gospel preachers. I hate to hear brethren criticize preachers unjustly. I can only imagine how God feels about it. At the conclusion of one meeting in which Tant was promised payment but the brethren reneged on it, Tant said they would pay him at the judgment. That is true, brethren. We need to be sure to treat these servants of God as such.
J. D. Tant is truly one of the exciting characters of our history to read about. The trials, tragedies, and triumphs of the Tant family will uplift you and inspire you to put forth a greater effort for the kingdom. A short review such as this is totally inadequate to convey the profit from this book. It is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. When you finish this book you will want to read the book of reflections by his wife, Nannie Green Yater Tant.
Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 9, No. 12, December 2002, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.