Noel Smith was born in Tennessee on August 7, 1900. He loved his native state, and he said once about her “…and Tennessee, whose child I am fortunate enough to be, in whose warm earthly bosom I hope to sleep my last earthly sleep.”
Led to Christ by his Sunday school teacher at the age of 15, he spent his early adult life working for railways in the Southeast U.S. In 1930 he was ordained to gospel ministry and served as an itinerant evangelist and pastor until 1947, when he joined forces with independent Baptist leader, J. Frank Norris, and became the editor of The Fundamentalist in Fort Worth, Texas. A few years later, when the Baptist Bible Fellowship was formed, he stood in the organizational meeting and said, “Let’s have a Fellowship paper, and let’s call it the Baptist Bible Tribune.” A few weeks later, June 26, 1950, the first issue was published, and he continued as the Tribune editor until his death, January 12, 1974.
Though he had little formal education, Smith was an avid student of the Bible, theology, politics, history, logic and philosophy. His editorials and essays, marked by logic and wit, covered those subjects and more. In those pages, in the pulpit, and in the classroom he was a voice, not only for the Fellowship, but for conservative Christianity as well, against her secular and liberal critics. He stood for the local church as a visible expression of the people of God, the Bible as the Word of God, and Jesus Christ as the atonement for the sins of the world.
Noel Smith believed that hard work and careful scholarship were essential for a minister of the Word of God, and his example set a standard for generations to follow.