UTAH MISSIONS, INC. (UMI)
Correspondence between Dr. Louis C. Midgley
and UMI Director Dennis Wright
UMI semi-regularly puts out a tabloid called The Evangel
(formerly The Utah Evangel). Every issue paints a false picture of the LDS
Church. Dr. Louis C. Midgley has written letters
to UMI Director Dennis A. Wright and founder John L. Smith pointing out some
of the Evangel's errors. Any reponse will be placed here. With the
author's permission, Dr. Midgley's letters have
undergone minor stylistic editing. The correspondence follows:
2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7
|Date: Wed, 17 Dec 97 18:53:32
Rev. Wright or "Dr." Smith:
I notice from a recent issue of one of your tabloids that you are
currently (1) promoting the late F. M. Brodie's No Man Knows My History, and (2)
offering it for sale. I notice that you offer to provide your readers the recent
paperback version of the second edition of No Man Knows for $22.00 and the hardback
version for $39.00. When I reviewed the Viking Press edition in 1996 it was selling for
$16.00. I checked Books In Print and it is currently selling for $17.00, and
the hardback edition is being offered for $35.00. In addition, I notice that the Tanners are offering the paperback for $16.00 through ULM . I wonder if you would care to explain the mark-up on
this book. Do your readers know that they are paying extra for a book that they can
easily purchase for much less at Barnes and Noble?
In addition, the little blurb on Brodie that appeared in an issue of
one of your tabloids was misleading. It turns out that Brodie never adequately
responded to the criticisms of No Man Knows. And it is also the case that her
book was not especially well received by professional historians even when it was first
published. Literary gents liked it, but they hardly understood it, if what they said
in reviews is any indication, and they were, with three exceptions, not familiar with the
Mormon past. Of the three literary gents who did know something about the Mormon
past, one was critical (Vardis Fisher) and two were Brodie's close friends. One of
these gents, Dale Morgan, had helped her write the Book. And the other, Bernard
DeVoto, though he liked parts of it, thought that Brodie's version of a naturalistic
explanation of Joseph Smith's prophetic truth claims was fundamentally wrong.
Incidentally, the second edition (1971) goes some distance toward rejecting her original
thesis and adopting a version of the kind of explanation DeVoto recommended back in 1946.
If you think that Brodie's book does the cause of anti-Mormonism any
good, you are sadly mistaken. Her work on Joseph Smith has turned out to be a dry
well, just as did her book on Thomas Jefferson. She wrote rather well, but her work
looks more like fiction than history. If you doubt that I am correct on this matter,
I recommend that you have a look at my "F. M. Brodie--'The Fasting Hermit and Very
Saint of Ignorance': A Biographer and Her Legend," FARMS REVIEW OF BOOKS 8/2
(1996): 147-230. If you do not have this item in your library, I will provide you
with a copy at my own expense. I trust that you will not print additional nonsense
about Brodie in future issues of your tabloid. If you are not convinced by my
arguments, then I recommend that you have a look at Newell Bringhurt's recent collection
of essays on Brodie's NO MAN KNOWS. There is little in that book that would
lead to confidence in Brodie's treatment of Joseph Smith.
In addition, it is clear that Brodie wrote from within an entirely
secular set of assumptions. She had no place for God in her understanding of the
world. She made it clear that she was even less friendly to sectarian versions of
Christian faith than she was to the version of Christian faith she had encountered in her
I am calling your attention to the competent literature on Brodie to
help you improve the contents of your tabloids. I assume that you are at least in
some measure interested in telling the truth in your efforts to keep people from joining
the Church of Jesus Christ. Now it may also be the case that you simply do not care
what the truth is, as long as you have something to say that will help protect what you
consider to be your sectarian turf.
Finally, whatever happened to Bob McKay? I thought that you
intended to report on his new employment and so forth. And what has happened to Mike
Reynolds? And it would be nice to know how Mr. Wright got into the anti-Mormon
business, what his previous line of employment has been, where and in what field he was
educated and so forth.
|Date: Thu, Dec 25, 1997 11:15 AM
A week or so ago I sent you a message in which I asked about what
seems to me to be inflated prices you are charging for both the hardback and paperback
versions of the second edition of F. M. Brodie's attempt to provide a naturalistic account
of The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I am disappointed that you have not
replied. In my earlier letter I indicated that the leading anti-Mormon
bookstore--ULM--offers both versions of Brodie's book for much less than you do. In
checking the web site of ULM, I notice that they offer the paperback version of NO MAN
KNOWS for both $14.95 and $16.00. And they offer the hardback version for
$30.00. Once again, I am eager for the explanation of your prices.
I am also wondering if either you or Rev. Smith has bothered to have
a look at my lengthy review of Brodie's book [See FARMS Review of Books, (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies,
Provo, UT: 1996) 8, 2: 147-230]. And, if so, I am curious about your response to the
information I offered concerning both NO MAN KNOWS and her later work on Thomas
|Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 14:36:33
A detailed response to your review of NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY will
be forthcoming in a few days.
Concerning our prices of $39.00 for the hardback edition and $22.00
for the softcover edition. You will please notice that on the order form on Page 11
of our publications the words: "Prices include postage and handling."
Others may wish to discount this book, but the regular price is
$35.00, so less than 10% addition for postage and handling is well within reason and
common sense! Granted, we purchase Brodie's book at a discount -- as does every
bookstore -- and we use what little profit we might generate to mail out thousands and
thousands of Evangel's every month AT NO COST WHATSOEVER to the recipients! Other
bookstores use their profits in whatever way they may chose. This is the American
Dennis A. Wright
|Date: Mon, 05 Jan 1998 16:18:15 -0700
From: "Louis C. Midgley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: TE ARIKI.
Subject: "DR." WALTER MARTIN
Dear Rev. Wright (or
"Dr" John L. Smith):
You seem pleased to reprint stuff written by "Dr." Walter
Martin as a way of filling THE INNER CIRCLE. Are you not even a little embarrassed
to be using something written by someone who for twenty years claimed that LDS Wards
consisted of blocks run by a Bishop and two teachers? I notice that you do not call
Mr. Martin either "Reverend" or "Doctor." But did he not claim
to be both an ordained Southern Baptist pastor and also a "Doctor?" Did he
not tell fibs about just about every aspect of his life? How can you justify
reprinting his nonsense? If you doubt that I am right about "Dr" and
"Reverend" Martin, I will provide you with the evidence of the lies he told, if
you will agree to reprint them.
And I am waiting for the response that the Rev. Wright promised.
Of course, you may be busy finally getting around to reading the word of God so that
you can at least pretend to know what you are now in the business of attacking.
Incidentally, I am hoping that something will be published in either
of your tabloids that indicates what exactly has happened to Robert McKay. Has he
found employment? Is he still a Southern Baptist? Where is he living? Is he
And what has become of Mike Reynolds? Has he found employment?
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998 15:04:05 -0600
Subject: Fawn McKay Brodie: NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY
From: email@example.com (Dennis A Wright)
Re: No Man Knows My History by
Fawn McKay Brodie
I accept your offer of a free copy of
your review entitled "F. M. Brodie ( 'The Fasting Hermit and Very Saint of
Ignorance': A Biographer and Her Legend," which is to be found in FARMS REVIEW OF
BOOKS 8/2 (1996).
My intention was to read your review
and give a detailed response in this communication. However, I have discovered that
my collection of Farms Review of Books (found on the LDS COLLECTOR'S LIBRARY '97 CD-ROM)
ends with 8/1 so I have been unable to read your review thus far. Neither have I
seen Newell Bringhurst's recent collection of essays on NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY which I
would enjoy reading as well. Upon receipt of your volume, I will read it and respond
as soon as possible. I will, however, comment on your several letters.
You mentioned that Brodie's book
"was not especially well received by professional historians even when it was first
published." I wouldn't know about that firsthand since the book was first
published in 1945, three years before I was even born! However, I have read the
comments to be found on the dust jacket of the hardbound edition. The NEW YORK TIMES
hailed it as "masterly," and Bernard DeVoto of the NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE
described Brodie's work as "brilliant ( in a class by itself." DeVoto went
on to say that NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY is "the best book about the Mormons so far
published. Granted, publisher's blurbs may not be all that they are cracked up to
Since DeVoto wrote his review more
than half a century ago I am at a loss to ascertain that he "thought Brodie was
fundamentally wrong about her version of a naturalistic explanation of Joseph Smith's
truth claims," as you suggest. Where can said review be found?
Granted, Vardis Fisher criticized
Brodie's handling of some of her sources as Sterling M. McMurrin documents in "A New
Climate of Liberation: A Tribute to Fawn McKay Brodie, 1915-1981" published in
DIALOGUE: A JOURNAL OF MORMON THOUGHT, Vol. XIV, No. 1 (Spring 1981), page 74.
McMurrin records that Dale E. Morgan called the book a "definitive
biography," "the finest job of scholarship yet done in Mormon history"
McMurrin goes on to say,
"Whatever its merits and demerits, the Brodie book was a watershed in the treatment
of Mormon history by Mormon historians. I believe that because of NO MAN KNOWS MY
HISTORY, Mormon history produced by Mormon scholars has moved toward more openness,
objectivity, and honesty" (DIALOGUE, Vol. XIV, No. 1, pages 74-75).
Fawn Brodie was no inept historian.
She taught for years on the history faculty at the University of California at Los
Angeles and "her teaching was directed especially to historical biography,"
McMurrin affirms. In the same article in DIALOGUE he adds: "For her work on
Joseph Smith, Fawn Brodie received not only high praise and competent criticism, she was
all too frequently the object of vilification (and that by many who knew little or nothing
about Joseph Smith or Mormon history beyond what they had gleaned from the Church's own
propagandistic literature or from those Mormon writers who are simply apologists for the
Church and their own religion)" (page 75).
Marvin S. Hill, in "Brodie
Revisited: A Reappraisal" (DIALOGUE: A JOURNAL OF MORMON THOUGHT, Vol VII, No. 4,
Winter 1974), says: "If one reviews the vast amount of scholarship in Mormon
history since 1945 and uses this as a criteria for evaluating Brodie's book, it seems
undeniable that much of her history retains its relevance and authenticity" (page
73). Hill continues, "Some of the issues which she raised she succeeded in
settling with a finality which seems remarkable" (page 73). Still later, Hill
says: "Thus it should be evident that Brodie has written an immensely important
book, a powerful book, which greatly influenced the thinking of Mormon liberals and
conservatives with respect to the life of the prophet" (page 74).
These comments (and many other LDS
sources that I could quote) do not seem to agree with your assessment that NO MAN KNOWS MY
HISTORY is a "dry well!" As recently as the Fall 1997 issue of the UTAH
HISTORICAL QUARTERLY (Volume 65 / Number 4) one finds others who do not seem to agree with
you either. Richard S. Van Wagoner says in his review of NEWELL BRINGHURST'S
RECONSIDERING NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY: FAWN M. BRODIE AND JOSEPH SMITH IN RETROSPECT
that Mario S. De Pillis characterizes Brodie's book as "the landmark and still
unreplaced biography of Joseph Smith" (page 391). Van Wagoner himself adds that
NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY has proven to be a major impetus in the quest for a less
apologetic, more objective Mormon history" (page 391).
It is abundantly apparent that what
Leonard J. Arrington said in his article "Scholarly Studies of Mormonism in the
Twentieth Century" (DIALOGUE: A JOURNAL OF MORMON THOUGHT, Vol 1 No. 1) is still
true: "In the absence of a better book, we have to admit that it [NO MAN KNOWS
MY HISTORY] is the best book that has ever been written on the subject" (quoted from
memory as my copy of this volume is not at hand).
Continuing, you state "it is
clear that Brodie wrote from within an entirely secular set of assumptions. She had
no place for God in her understanding of the world." While I would certainly
have rejoiced to see President David O, McKay's niece become a Biblical Christian and
become active in an evangelical church, I can understand her cynicism toward any church
after having been excommunicated from the LDS Church following the publication of NO MAN
KNOWS MY HISTORY (cf. McMurrin, DIALOGUE, Vol XIV No. 1, page 74).
But does writing from a "secular
set of assumptions" disqualify Brodie from serious scholarship. I think not.
Everyone has their own personal bias on just about any subject. Even so
imminent a writer as Apostle Bruce R. McConkie exhibits his personal bias in his many LDS
works. So Brodie is a secularist. So what?
Your most recent correspondence
involved an article by Walter Martin that I ran in the January issue of THE INNER CIRCLE.
Martin obviously goofed up if he, in fact, thought that "Mormon Wards consisted
of blocks run by a Bishop and two teachers." What "personal fibs" you
are referring to may just be a matter of opinion. Martin was an ordained Baptist
minister, whether or not he was a Southern Baptist I do not know. I have been
informed that his doctorate was honorary, as is John L Smith's. Does this disqualify
someone from being called "Dr. So-And-So"? Again, I think not!
Incidentally, doesn't Brigham Young University also confer honorary doctorates upon
Whatever evidence of his
"lies" you might have would never be published by me since Walter Martin is
deceased and would be unable to answer for himself.
You inquire, "How can you justify
reprinting his nonsense?" Perhaps you might wish to reconsider your choice of
words. The article in question quotes many primary LDS sources, including several
Prophets and General Authorities. If what Martin said is "nonsense," does
it not follow that the source of this "nonsense" is in reality Joseph Smith,
Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow, Milton R. Hunter, and even your most imminent theologian,
James E. Talmage? Therefore, is what Martin records, in fact,
"nonsense"? You tell me.
You would probably concede, as do I,
that Brigham Young's Adam-God Doctrine was hogwash. The LDS Church denied for years
that he even taught said doctrine. That is, until Bruce R. McConkie finally
admitted, "Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits. .
. " (Letter to Mr. Eugene England at Brigham Young University, dated February 19,
1981, page 6).
Once again, as in the case of Fawn
McKay Brodie, are you not guilty of attacking the messenger when you do not care for the
Concerning Mike Reynolds and Robert
McKay. Reynolds is in Fort Worth, Texas, working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. McKay is in Albuquerque, New
Mexico. Both are still Southern Baptists. I have had no contact with either of
You inquired about my credentials.
I was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister by the First Baptist Church of
Houston, Texas. I graduated in 1971 from Oklahoma Baptist University with a BA
(Major: Religion; Minor: History). I attended New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary where I was in the Master of Theology Honors program. In 1975, I received my
Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Major: New
Testament). I am working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at Midwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Kansas City and expect to graduate in 1999. When I get
through with that I intend to work on a Ph.D. in History at The University of Oklahoma
just for kicks.
For over two decades, I have been a
pastor, having pastored four Southern Baptist Churches in Arizona and Oklahoma, as well as
having served on the Church Staff of one of the largest Southern Baptist Churches in
My interest in Mormonism ( and, yes,
my love for Mormon people ( extends back to my first pastorate in Tucson. I have no
ill feelings for any LDS that I have ever met. I simply think that Mormonism is
wrong ( provably wrong! Anti-Mormon? Not hardly!!! Anti-Mormonism?
Until next time, I am
Dennis A. Wright
Director, Utah Missions
|Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 16:19:53 -0700
From: "Louis C. Midgley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Organization: TE ARIKI.
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: SKINNY: "DR." WALTER R. MARTIN
I enjoyed your letter dated 9 Jan. 98. I will not comment on
your remarks about Fawn Brodie and her explanation of Joseph Smith and the Book of
Mormon. It seems obvious from your letter that you are trying to actually learn
something about these matters. And it would be unnecessarily insulting, if I were to
draw attention to problems in your recent letter. Insead, I will send you a copy of
my recent essay on Brodie. I assumed, obviously incorrectly, from your letter
addressed to "Dear Mrs. Midgley," that you had read my essay and were prepared
to take issue with what I have written. That now seems not to be the case.
That is, you have not read my essay, though you seem assured that you will have to refute
whatever I have said. I am puzzled by what seems to be a need to challenge whatever
a believing Latter-day Saint may have written. Are we all always wrong and in need
of correction on every little issue? I would urge you to see if you might actually
learn something about Brodie from what I have written. I can assure you that it is
the most complete treatement of the reception by the scholarly and non-scholarly world of
her book on Joseph Smith to yet appear in print. It is more complete than anything
published to date by my friend Newell Bringhurst, who is getting ready to publish a
long-awaited biography of Brodie, and who has already published something like ten essays
on her, as well as the collection of essays that you indicated you have not seen.
You can, I am confident, learn something from Bringhurst's collection of essays.
Now to "Dr." Martin. You grant that Martin
"goofed up," as you put it, "if he, in fact, thought that 'Mormon Wards
consisted of blocks run by a Bishop and two teachers'." Well, it turns out that
that is exactly what he wrote early on his his anti-Mormon career. Now I
congratulate you on what appears to be a willingness to grant certain things if and when
that becomes necessary because of textual evidence.
You state that what I called Martin's "personal fibs" are
"just a matter of opinion." On this you are simply dead wrong.
Martin has been shown to be a liar many times over. I believe that you have in
your library there at UMI a volume that is filled with textual evidence of Martin's
fibs. Look for a book by Robert and Rosemary Brown entitled THEY LIE IN WAIT TO
DECEIVE, vol. 3, and have a look for yourself. John L. Smith had seen a copy of this
book at least once, since he responded to one issue raised by the Browns in the September
1987 UTAH EVANGEL.
Rev. Smith responded to complaints about his being introduced in the
first version of the film GODMAKERS as "Dr." John L. Smith. If I remember
correctly, he admitted that he had no doctoral degree, but that he was often called
"Dr." as a kind of courtesy for formality, much like being called
"Reverend." And he boasted that something called BYU BULLETIN in 1957
called him "Dr." when he took a tour with travel study at BYU.
Incidentally, contrary to what he claims, John L. Smith was never a student at BYU.
It is silly to try to lead people to believe that taking a travel study tour is
being a student at BYU. Hence, BYU has no record of anyone with the name "John
L. Smith" ever attending one class. And in the UTAH EVANGEL for Feb. 1984, if I
remember correctly, John L. Smith indicated that he does "not have a Doctor's
degree." He gets called "Dr." merely because "preachers are
often called 'Doctor'." And I believe that he claimed that he has "been
introduced as 'Dr. Smith' at least a hundred times." In your recent letter you
do not mention any of this. Instead, you claim that "you have been
informed," presumably by John L. Smith, "that his [Martin's] doctorate was
honorary, as is John L. Smith's."
There is much confusion in those remarks. Martin did not claim
to have gotten an honorary doctorate. Instead, he purchased a doctorate from what amounted
to a diploma mill, a place then called California Western University. This is not to
be confused with the real California Western University, which still operates as a real
university in San Diego. This institution brought legal action against the diploma
mill and forced it to change its name, which it did, to California Coastal (or Coast)
University. If you will have a look at either the Christian Research Institute's web
page or the most recent edition of Martin's THE KINGDOM OF THE CULTS (1997), you will see
that they have corrected the name of the diploma mill from California Western University
to California Coastal University. They claim that he got a real, "earned"
Ph.D. What they conveniently forget to mention is that it was from a place with four
"deans" and no library, no classrooms, and that it did not give examinations,
require papers or a dissertation. And what they also do not tell their readers is
that Martin was claiming a doctorate long before he purchased one, for example, on his
mother's death certificate.
If either John L. Smith or Walter R. Martin ever got an honorary
doctorate from a degree granting university, please provide me with the details. And
also provide evidence that people who are so honored go around advertising themselves as
"Dr." so-and-so. The fact is that if someone were actually to represent
himself as having some expert training and qualifications, as a "Dr." in that
sense, merely because he had been honored, usually for large financial contributions to
the awarding university, he would appear foolish.
Now to the question of whether Walter Martin was an ordained
minister. He was ordained by those representing the Southern Baptist Convention in
1951. This was after his first wife had divorced him. Those who ordained him
did so with the condition that his ordination would be revoked if he remarried. When
they discovered that he had remarried, they defrocked him. But, no matter, he went
right on claiming to be a Southern Baptist or an American Baptist pastor, neither of which
was true. I will not mention his other fibs, or that his second wife divorced him.
You obviously are not aware of any of these matters. And you
may be tempted to do damage control by claiming that these are, after all, small matters
and do not bear on the quality of his writings. But my hunch is that you know little
about Martin's literary career and are in no position to have an informed opinion about
the quality of what he wrote (or published).
I am, let me point out, not attacking you. I am trying to help
you avoid future embarrassment. I suggest that you should be very cautious in what
you include in your tabloids. By so doing you reduce the rhetorical violence and
increase the quality of what appears print. And you avoid having to get angry when
someone points out what may well turn out to be silly and avoidable mistakes.
But why are Walter Martin's credentials an issue? Because the
quality of his writings immediately tells Latter-day Saints that he was always badly
informed. How could someone who published as much as he did, get so many things
wrong? Because he was not well-educated. He never had to write and defend even
a masters thesis. He never subjected himself to an academic discipline that might
have prepared him to do even marginally competent work from an academic perspective.
Now, I will grant that he was a good performer on stage in front of an audience--an
uninformed audience. But to those who know something about the Mormon topics which
he discussed, he always appears silly.
If you doubt this, just ask yourself whether you agree with Fawn
Brodie that the Spalding explanation for the Book of Mormon is simply impossible nonsense.
If you do accept Brodie's opinion on this matter, and every academic currently
writing about Mormon issues seems to accept her position, then you are going to have to
explain why Walter Martin, who liked to cite Brodie's book on Joseph Smith in his
bibliographies, ignored the very point upon which all informed critics of her work agree
that she got something right. On the other hand, if you want to defend Martin
against Brodie, be my guest--go right ahead, but be warned that you will be swimming
against the stream.
I would prefer that we not get into an ugly argument. The
reason I asked you to tell me something about yourself is that I have found that if I know
something about a person, it is difficult, even impossible, to treat him badly. I
would, believe it or not, like to know more about you. Do you have eternal security
or can or have you fallen from grace a few times? How do you view those who bark,
mumble, fall and so forth? Is that sort of stuff a manifestation of the Holy
Spirit? How do you stand on Calvinism? Is that kind of Christianity heretical?
What about Roman Catholics? It would help me to know some of these things.
When did you, if you ever have, accept Jesus as your personal savior? Do you
think that after doing so you must keep the commandments and show deeds in conformity as
far as possible with the life that Jesus would have us live? Even if faith, that is,
confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, is all that is needed to have one's seat in Heaven
locked up, is not faith then a necessary good work that earns forgiveness? I am not
in any way trying to put words into your mouth. All I want to know is how you
understand yourself and how you understand your faith. I will take your word for
what you believe.
I am willing, in exchange, to reveal something of where I come from.
I am, however, not interested in debating the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ
with you. It is not on trial, but Evangelical and other versions of Christianity are
certainly on trial. And I am perfectly willing to have you defend your version of
Christian faith, if you care to do so.
|Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 09:23:15 -0700
From: "Louis C. Midgley" <email@example.com>
To: Dennis A Wright <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
Dear Rev. Wright:
I trust that you will overlook the obvious inaccurate typing in my
last note. In glancing at what I had sent you, I was disappointed that I had not
stated that I consider your recent response to me to be much better written and more open
and reasonable than any exchange either in writing or on the phone that I have had with
either Mike Reynolds or Robert McKay. I am confident that my experiences with both
of these fellows, and especially with McKay, were similar to those other LDS had with
If we are going to discuss Walter Martin, and I assume that is the
case, then it would help if I knew exactly which of his various attacks on the Church of
Jesus Christ you have read. I believe that I have read all of them. And I have
read almost every edition of these attacks. For example, I have carefully compared
the 1965, 1985 and 1997 editions of his THE KINGDOM OF THE CULTS. I have not seen
the 1977 edition of that book. I have given some attention to Walter Martin because
I am busy writing an essay on his particular contribution to anti-Mormonism. I
already have a long essay on the countercult industry being edited. I think that I
have some idea of the role Martin played in the growth of this industry, especially in the
late 1960s and early 1970s. I am confident that most of his impact on the
countercult industry was the result of speeches that he gave. From everything I have been
able to learn, Martin was an effective speaker. He was certainly able to charm
audiences and thereby sell himself and his products.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY (CT), in an essay highly favorable to Martin,
described him as "an energetic, bluff man with a remarkable memory and a delight in
the parry and thrust of debate." The word "bluff" is exactly the word
they used. The editors of CT granted that he "seemed abrasive and
sarcastic" to some who heard him speak. And in an apparent effort to do damage
control, the editors of CT explained that, "although he did not receive his Ph.D.
until he was in his late forties, his peers called him 'Doctor' or 'Doc' from the time he
was in junior-high school, leading to a classic problem: When introduced to an
audience as 'Dr. Martin,' should he explain that only his friends called him
CT did not, of course, mention California Western (now Coast)
University, where Martin purchased his doctorate. If you have doubts about whether
this place is actually a genuine university with a real graduate school, try looking for
Martin's doctoral dissertation. Phone CRI and see if they can come up with a copy,
or even the title for a Walter Martin dissertation. Now I have pushed this matter a
second time because I want you to realize that JLS may have had good reasons for informing
you that the "Reverend" Martin had an honorary degree. It was
"honorary" in the sense that his "peers"--his employees at CRI--called
him "Doc." But did the vast number of people drawn into Evangelical
gatherings to listen to him blast away at the faith of others know that he was what CT
called a "bluff" man, that is, one who makes a pretence of strength
to gain an advantage--one who bluffs while playing a game?
My suggestion is that you could serve your interests better by
including in your tabloids materials produced by more responsible sources than Walter
Martin. Or at least you could inform your readers of their clay feet.
It is not
impossible for those in countercult parachurches to cut adrift people who posed as
"Doctor" this-or-that. Do you recall the "Dr." Dee Jay Nelson
business? If not, perhaps JLS could help, or I will provide you with the details.
You see, I plan on being helpful.
Grace and peace,