March 14, 2010

A Letter from *Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder

Dear Dr. Bauder:

No doubt you are a bit familiar with me and the ministry God gave me in the not too distant past. I had humble beginnings, being born in Kansas into a Christian home. However, I turned from God in my teenage years. He lovingly brought me to Himself through the tragic loss of my brother and through an old fashioned, three week evangelistic meeting in Washington State.

God led me to train for ministry at the Moody Bible Institute. It was there I learned the essentials of Bible Institute training – The English Bible, gospel music, and personal evangelism. At this school, I heard the men who shaped my philosophy of ministry – men like R.A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, G. Campbell Morgan, and Griffith Thomas. From here, I received further training at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kalamazoo College, and the Chicago University.

From my early days as a Christian, I knew God had called me to the pastorate. As you may know, The Lord allowed me to pastor in Wilton Center, IL, Kalamazoo, MI, Cedar Rapids, IA and then Minneapolis, MN. My last pastorate spanned over four decades and was certainly full of God’s rich blessing. Many great revivals took place during my tenure as the pastor! Many people were saved! God even allowed me to found the Pillsbury Baptist Bible College and the school which you now lead.

It may seem strange that I am writing to you since my decease, but it is not nearly as strange as some of your recent writings are to me. I have noticed with great consternation, the e-posts you have placed on and other places. As the founder of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, an Independent Baptist Seminary, it is not a little troubling to me.

I want to appeal to a sense of love for and loyalty to the Scripture. When Central Baptist Theological Seminary was founded, we chose Isaiah 8:20 as the theme verse. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Do you believe this, Kevin? I am certain that you do. Allow me to bear my burden to you.

It is astounding to me that in many of your recent writings on a professedly fundamental, Baptist site, you seem to constantly extol the “virtues” of evangelical Protestants while, at the same time, deriding the “vices” of Fundamental Baptists. Reading your posts would lead some to wonder if you weren’t just writing a resume for some “conservative evangelical” seminary to read and then hire you. No doubt, Fundamental Baptists have their “flaws,” as do others in a different theological orbit, but must you constantly point these out with little or no qualification? It is hard to read even one of your tomes without hearing you constantly jab at the perceived flaws of some past and even present Independent Baptists. Could this constant derision of Fundamental Baptist preachers be sourced in bitterness toward those who have disappointed you in the past? Is this generalization of the movement, of which you “claim” to be a part, healthy? Do you think it is possible that your constant diatribe against “your own” is one of the main reasons some young people are leaving sound churches for “greener pastures?”

Also, while reading your articles, I have observed an inordinate affection towards pseudo-intellectual teaching and a disdain for old-fashioned, confrontational, Bible preaching. Make no mistake, old fashioned, confrontational Bible preaching is exactly why I founded Central Seminary. My burden was to train men with an airtight understanding of the Scripture, with the ability to stand in pulpits across the land and preach “thus saith the Lord,” with the desire to start churches and win souls to Christ. To the contrary, I did not start the school over which you preside, for men to flounder in unbelief, for them to wonder for decades where they stand, or for them to be given to counseling, teaching, and academic idolatry. I often told the men I was training, “We use the mind here, but we do not worship it.”

On another count, I am grieved when I see you lauding extreme Calvinists who are not even Baptists. Brother Bauder, they and their ilk are not responsible for founding the school called Central. Extreme Calvinists were not the ones who funded its inception. They did not show up each week to knock on doors and tell people about Christ. They were not the sacrificial givers who willingly gave to make God’s vision possible. I could not depend upon them to start and operate the WCTS radio station. They were not the ones who yielded themselves to make a Baptist camp possible. They did not give to support the cause of missions around the world. Yet you cannot seem to praise them enough? You call them an ally, when historically they have proven to be opponents of Fundamental Baptists? Is this right? These, that you laud, include the Aaron’s who have compromised in areas of separation. They include the Jehoshaphats who “love them that hate the Lord.”

A few weeks back you wrote an article called Conundrum and with amazing transparency told of your journey to where you are now. You listed several authors, left, center and right, who have helped shape who you are today. While I appreciate your honesty, it saddened my heart to hear how men, some of whom have little regard for the Law and Testimony, so influenced your life. I sought in vain to read where Paul, John, Peter, Matthew, Elijah, Michaiah, Samuel, or any others of the many Bible servants influenced you. I looked to no avail, for some of the godly, Fundamental Baptist men of the past to have molded your life. Why, Kevin? Why allow these new-evangelical, left-leaning men to have such sway in your heart? Surely you must know this is not what will build character in your young ministry students. Do you know that? Certainly you have heard the axiom, “What the parents do in moderation, the children will do in excess.” Doesn’t this give you pause to weigh carefully the consequences of your published e-words? Where is your caution as a preacher-training “parent?” Why do you continually laud men who violate Bible truth and systematically reject what we tried to teach in the early days of Central?

Lastly, I must say, that I preached my entire ministry from the KJV. Was that wrong, outmoded, or ineffective? You seem to loathe anyone who does preach from this Bible and won’t preach from another? With the help of God, I was able to see Fourth Baptist grow through old-fashioned preaching, soulwinning and discipleship. While this may contradict the conservative evangelical code, is this unacceptable or a violation of the Word of God? I preached the Bible faithfully, stood for it vigorously, and opposed the liberals, modernists, and evangelical protestant compromisers of my day. Did I miss some verse that contradicts these paths? Did I fail in my ministry in these areas? Be sure, I made some mistakes, and could elaborate them quite clearly, but in these matters, did I disobey God? We experienced real revival at our church, in our youth group, and at our schools. Is this out of date and no longer en vogue for the 21st century?

Dr. Bauder, all given appearances seem to indicate you are intentionally trying to lead those who follow your writings, the students of Central, and even Central itself away from the Testimony upon which it was founded and into the compromising orbit of protestant evangelicalism. As Samuel of old who, after his death, confronted Saul in his error, I plead with you to turn back “to the Law and to the Testimony.”


Richard V. Clearwaters

*Written by Evangelist Dwight Smith who for several years attended Fourth Baptist Church, was challenged by Richard V. Clearwaters and whose dad was trained directly under his ministry. He may be contacted at the Evangelist Dwight Smith website.

Addendum from the Author:
For some time I have avoided posting on SI because of the condescending tone and critical spirit displayed by many of the contributors and moderators. Last fall, I signed up, and last Friday posted my first message. Their reaction indicates that the brothers at SI, in large part, are open to criticism as long as it is not directed at them.

Dwight Smith

Site Publisher Note: First appeared at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron site (3/12/10) in a thread under Kevin Bauder’s Nick of Time, article, Let’s Get Clear on This (3/7/10). Permission was received from Dr. Clearwaters, I mean Evangelist Dwight Smith, to reproduce his thread comment here as a main page article.

For my series, which reviews Kevin Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear on This see- Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations

Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations, Part 2

For an extended discussion of SI’s handling and deletion of the Clearwaters letter see, SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters! Well Sort of

I have furthermore produced a second companion article to review an article related to Kevin Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear on This. The article I review is written by SI site publisher Aaron Blumer titled, I Learned it From Fundamentalists.

It is a genuine well written and heart felt depiction of his life’s journey in and around historic Fundamentalism. I commend him for this article and his expression of it. It does, however, raise some legitimate questions and comments that I would put to Aaron in his capacity as SI site publisher.

See my review of Aaron’s article at Aaron Blumer: Learned it From Fundamentalists for your consideration.


  1. What a joke this is. Bauder has done nothing but state the truth. It is almost as if Fundamentalists are worried about their place on the earth. If I did not know better it is like they exhibiting a nervous jealousy! When will this futile bickering come to an end? Kevin Bauder is not a compromiser, he is a Christian. The enemy is not those who preach the gospel. Fundamentalists would rather fight each other than their real common enemy which is Satan. This has caused them to become isolationists and their influence to wane. It is a sin to cause division within the church and I think Fundamentalists need to look closely in the mirror and stop throwing rocks.

  2. KD:

    First, no one I am aware of, including myself, believe there are not troubling issues to be found in some segments that ID themselves or movement with Fundamentalism. On whole, however, there are hundreds of good pastors, evangelists and missionaries with faithful ministries in historic Fundamentalism.

    Second, I recommend you read my first in the series on Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear… article.

    A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations

    Then be sure to read my reposting of the Comment by Dr. Gerald Priest (DBTS faculty) which he posted at the pseudo-fundamentalist SI site.

    For example Priest wrote, “Kevin has been quite lavish in his praise of conservative evangelicals while castigating so-called fundamentalists. Yet he has spent very little time warning us about the pitfalls and problems of conservative evangelicalism… What I fear is that we [Bauder] may be allowing a Trojan horse into the fundamentalist camp. And after a while, if we keep going down this track, any significant difference between conservative evangelical and the fundamentalist institutions may disappear.”

    No one I am aware of, including me, think Bauder was being untruthful. The problems, which stem from an obvious bias, are:

    1) He does not and to my knowledge has never fully engaged the disconcerting issues in conservative evangelicalism (ce), openly admonish them and warn our men to admonish them if not avoid them. Bauder brushes by or ignores the inconvenient truths of the ce doctrinal aberrations, (Piper/Mahaney are Charismatic’s), the ecumenical betrayal of Mohler and Duncan, the Rock/CCM/RAP culture at ce events like MacArthur’s Resolved. You see, these things are tolerated, allowed for and excused for the sake of fellowship with them. Isn’t that right? And contrary to Bauder’s thinking- Piper is one of the “new” New Evangelicals.

    2) As I noted in my review Bauder is not satisfied with gushing over and promotion of the ce men. He has to spend most of his word count trashing Fundamentalism. You may recall Bauder’s Unprovoked Attacks on Bob Jones, III and John R. Rice last summer from SI. You may not have been at last years FBFI in Schaumburg, but I was. There, Bauer deliberately (again) without provocation, besmirched BJU from the platform during the Q&A symposium that was meant to discuss the ce camp.

    You wrote, “The enemy is not those who preach the gospel.” FWIW, the men who preach and teach the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel are teaching a false, works based, man-centered message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). And I mean MacArthur, Piper, et. al., who teaches the LS message as JMac defines it, are teaching a false gospel, which means that they are NOT defenders of the Gospel.

    With T4G weeks away I recommend you read Peter Masters article, The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness.

    Finally, there is nothing futile about addressing the doctrinal and practical errors of conservative evangelicalism. Nothing futile about warning and discussing articles like Bauder’s when he is the ce camps’ chief apologist in Fundamentalism and is leading the next generation toward the errors of the ce camp.

    And that is NO joke!


  3. Lou you and I have corresponded before and you are a nice guy. I don’t have an axe to grind with you but I really don’t even know where to start. I am just going to say that 1. John MacArthur is not heretical period! He has clarified himself and has done more to defend the gospel than most will have the chance to do in their lifetime. 2. Kevin Bauder did not "gush" over the conservative evangelicals. Bauder's first article last year was a response to Dan Sweatt's crazy rant against Reformed theology and Calvinists at The Wilds. Bauder simply pointed out the insanity of Sweatt’s talk and the related shortcomings of Fundamentalism and everyone went bonkers. Is Fundamentalism above criticism? Does Fundamentalism have a corner on the market when it comes to true religion? The bottom line is Fundamentalists mandate that all Christians must be uniform in everything to be accepted within the Fundy fold. There is no diversity allowed. Unity does not mean uniformity! I am a Presbyterian and though I have much in common with Fundamentalists and I must say I feel less comfortable with Fundamentalists now than ever. Unfortunately, my Reformed theology puts me out of the Fundamentalist’s exclusive circle - what a shame! Be honest is there a place for a Reformed Presbyterian in Fundamentalism? Are Fundamentalists leaders seeking the growth of Christ’s kingdom or simply throwing rocks because they are afraid their own empire is in ruins? You are saying that MacArthur preaches a “false” gospel. Lets be honest Fundamentalists are not known for their doctrine. I learned through the Shorter Catechism what justification and imputed righteousness meant, in a Presbyterian (PCA) church – yes that’s right a PCA church! I very seldom even heard the term imputed righteousness among the Fundamentalists preachers. Most of them, though well meaning, preached a gospel of co-operative salvation with God – you do your part in salvation and God will do his. This was what I heard from many of the so called “big name” Baptist Fundamentalist pastors. This, my friend is another gospel. The true gospel is all of grace with no human merit or work or ability to curry favor with God. I would say it is sovereign grace but I know that is where you and I might not agree. My point is you have taken MacArthur to task repeatedly. Why don’t you apply the same standard to your own peers in Fundamentalism? As much as I appreciate BJU, why is it if someone agrees with BJU they must be OK? Fundamentalism needs to be critiqued and assessed just like everything else, through scripture. Bauder had the guts to put it out there to provoke thought. It would do more for Fundamentalism to judge people and things by the Bible vs. what BJU thinks of something. All churches throughout the ages have needed reformation. Fundamentalist churches need to look to Christ first and then inwardly at their own sin before hammering those who are doing God’s work.

    “There is far more power with God in the humble acknowledgment of sinfulness than in a boastful claim of cleanliness, — much more power in pleading that grace will forgive than in asking that justice should reward" - CH Spurgeon

  4. KD:

    Thanks for the follow-up, shorter chunks next time; OK? We agree on a great deal, more than you know. I don’t have time for a lengthy reply, so here goes in short bursts.

    1) I am going to get this out of the way first without apology- John MacArthur teaches a false gospel commonly known as Lordship Salvation. He has clarified this by continually reinforcing and reiterating his works-based salvation since his first and latest editions of TGATJ. As Dr. Ernest Pickering noted,

    John MacArthur is a sincere servant of the Lord, of that we have no doubt.... We believe in his advocacy of the so-called lordship salvation he is wrong. He desperately desires to see holiness, lasting fruit, and continuing faithfulness in the lives of Christian people. This reviewer and we believe all sincere church leaders desire the same.... But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel.”

    2) “ Bauder’s first article last year was a response to Dan Sweatt’s crazy rant against Reformed theology and Calvinists at The Wilds.” OK and you will remember Bauder then launched his series of unprovoked attacks against Rice and Jones. He, furthermore, besmirched BJU at the FBFI.

    3) Does Fundamentalism have a corner on the market when it comes to true religion? No.

    4) The bottom line is Fundamentalists mandate that all Christians must be uniform in everything to be accepted within the Fundy fold. There is no diversity allowed. Unity does not mean uniformity!

    5) Be honest is there a place for a Reformed Presbyterian in Fundamentalism? You and I are dialoging; aren’t we? Not likely we can share an ecclesiastical unity if I am to be obedient to the Scriptures. FWIW, I do know Reformed IFB men who would not open their pulpit to a Presbyterian.

    6) The true gospel is all of grace with no human merit or work or ability to curry favor with God. I would say it is sovereign grace but I know that is where you and I might not agree. Calvin speak, which I can’t take time at the moment to unravel into the 4-5 point Calvinism you are speaking of.

    7) Why don’t you apply the same standard to your own peers in Fundamentalism? Are you sure I don’t when I see the need?

    8) As much as I appreciate BJU, why is it if someone agrees with BJU they must be OK? I don’t think like that.

    9) Fundamentalism needs to be critiqued and assessed just like everything else, through scripture. Bauder had the guts to put it out there to provoke thought. Everything should be evaluated through the lens of Scripture. As I said Bauder was horribly lopsided. Did you read Dr. Priest’s comment that I linked you to?

    10) It would do more for Fundamentalism to judge people and things by the Bible vs. what BJU thinks of something. Which is why my sole and final authority is the Word of God and I believe the BJU admin would stake out the same ground.

    I’ll close with some personal biographical information you may not be aware of.

    I taught on faculty at PCC 1987-1992, my M.A. is from PCC and I was ordained at the Campus Church in 1992. As a missionary to South Africa I was supported by churches that were pastored by BJU grads, PCC grads and other colleges. My oldest child is BJU grad, my second is a PCC grad. And on it goes. My point is that you might not want to think me in lockstep with any school, movement or institution.

    I do appreciate your concerns and as I noted we do have some common ground on some issues, more than you may realize.


  5. Respectfully we will have to disagree. MacArthur advocates that followers of Christ recognize Jesus as their Lord. Not much I can see wrong with that.

    I did not understand your statement "Not likely we can share an ecclesiastical unity if I am to be obedient to the Scriptures." If you and are believers we should be able to share all sorts of unity unless you believe me being a Presbyterian is against scripture. Conviction has led me here and you should allow me liberty of conscience as I would allow you. This is precisely what I am talking about when I talked about the difference between unity and uniformity. We can unite in spirit even though we are slightly different. The Pauline gospel that some call Calvinism is much larger than 5 points. You and I would probably agree with most things down the line, but because I am a Reformed Presbyterian I am not welcome.

    Please prove me wrong with this. I am sick of Christians fighting among themselves over stupid stuff when there are real issues we should be fighting against together.

  6. KD:

    MacArthur in fact advocates that a lost man must make a commitment toward, surrender to becoming a follower of Christ in exchange for becoming a born again follower of Christ. That is works salvation.

    Ecclesiastical unity” would be a problem if, as I believe and correct me if I’m wrong, the Presbyterian pastor would baptize infants/young children, not for regeneration, but the baptism of infants would for most IFB men restrain them from having you in their pulpit. You, like I, however, have soul liberty.

    You cite “Reformed Presbyterian” as though that is what divides. That is not the case. Do you remember Promise Keepers? Promise #6 spoke of tearing down the walls of denominational divisions. Now, they meant the RCC as well as many others. The real issue is that certain denominational labels indicate certain types of doctrine and/or practices that may necessitate separatism. Agreed?

    Christians fighting among themselves.” Brother, we should strive for unity where and when can have it. However, when the need is obvious to resist errors in doctrine and/or practice it is never a stupid thing to do fight and resist its spread. It is the biblical thing to do in fidelity to the God ordained mandates. There are issues that we are mandated to resist, even when the issue is coming from with those within the church. Acts 20:28-31 is very clear that dangerous doctrines and practices can come from men within the body; right?

    Both Lordship Salvation and the GES Crossless Gospel are false interpretations of the Gospel. LS adds works to the Gospel, the CG strips the Gospel of its saving message. Both must and will be biblically resisted. Those are the lines of separation for me with brothers who hold to or teach either of them.


  7. Lou you and I will have to disagree on the MacArthur thing. I dont believe in works but I also dont believe in easy believism which gives one license to live like the devil. You are labeling MacArthur as someone he is not. This has gone on for years and we will have to agree to disagree with what MacArthur is. I could say since you dont believe in total depravity or unconditional election you or your friends are advocating a works religion. I could easliy say since Fundamentalist Baptist preachers never talk about imputed righteousness (which MacArthur does quite frequently) they are preaching another gospel. Now I know that not to be true but there is probably more merit to that argument than to what you are saying about MacArthur. I would still ask you the question of will my being Presbyterian and Reformed keep me outside the Fundamentalist circle? Sure we have differences, but will it keep me out? I guess it would keep many good men from the past and present out of your pulpit if paedo baptism is the criteria?

  8. Lou you describe what MacArthur says is a requirment for salvation. I am curious how you would differ with your own description of what he believes - "MacArthur in fact advocates that a lost man must make a commitment toward, surrender to becoming a follower of Christ in exchange for becoming a born again follower of Christ" - Please tell me where this goes wrong?

  9. KD:

    See, we agree on a great deal. I don’t believe in the performance of or the promise of future works for salvation. I don’t believe it is right to accept or condone a professing believer who lives more like the Devil. Although the Bible clearly teaches the reality of the “carnal” brethren, Christian. (1 Cor. 3:1)

    The merits of my polemic on LS are drawn from my quoting men like MacArthur faithfully, accurately and in context. This way they are speaking for themselves and there is no possibility of a straw man coming from me.

    Now, I do trust you are reading the articles I’m linking you and my other guests to.

    So, let’s wrap it here. You can visit one of the many LS articles here and I'd be happy to discuss more of this in one of those.

    I appreciate your interacting with me charitably.


  10. KD:

    I appreciate your desire to continue the discussion of Lordship Salvation (LS) here. I am holding your last submission in moderation because as I indicted above I'd like for you to move the discussion of LS to any one of the many articles at my blog on LS.

    So, take your last comment and move it to another thread that deals specifically with LS and I'll be happy to engage you there.

    FWIW, my third article on the Bauder Let's get Clear... article is going to be decidely on the LS debate. There I'd be happy to take more of this up with you.

    Furthermore, there is an announcment coming very soon on the release of the revised and expanded edition of my book In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to LS.

    That would afford you another opportunity to discuss LS. OK?


  11. KD:

    I have your latest. Send me an e-mail and I will send back the original comment you submitted here.


  12. Lou,

    I left SI about 2 years ago (maybe more?) for many reasons, but one of the biggest for me was the overall negative tenor of the moderators and most of the forum participants towards those that disagree with their positions. You made this clear that you recognize this problem from your comments in your article entitled SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters! Well Sort of. SI's treatment of Brother Smith is further confirmation of a definite problem. In my estimation, SI is radically different from when it first started. SI was recommended to me (less than a year from when it started) by a fellow pastor who has been a friend to me since 1994. Knowing this man, he would never have recommended SI to me if it had begun in its present condition. It's sad how a site that was once a blessing and encouragement is now a site that I can't even recommend anymore.

    Keep up the good work.


  13. Doug:

    Thanks for the enouragment.

    There many who like you once participated at SI, but no more because of the obvious personal bias and/or intolerance of its leadership for dissenting opinions. The SI team is in the tank for conservative evangelicals and are highly intolerant of any challenges to their new friends and fellowships in the ce camp. Larry Rogier is the most abusive of any SI moderator as he bluntly demonstrated again in his questioning the honesty and ethics of Dwight Smith.

    For others here is a link to the article you refer to- SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters… and it exemplifies SI bias and hostility, which is commonplace there.

    SI has driven off at least 75% of its high of members. If the moderators did not constantly post their own comments in the threads the whole thing might grind to a halt. SI can’t even get a good debate going over Calvinism anymore because of their open disdain for and/or hostility toward this who reject Calvinism, Lordship Salvation and the rush to embrace the conservative evangelicals. Last year Aaron Blumer was cooking the SI membership books to SI advertisers to cover the massive losses of membership. After I confronted him with it, however, he edited his membership claims to a more believable number, with a very questionable qualifier.

    I detail all of these things at my minor blog, Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet

    Aaron had a chance to get it right when he took over from Janz. He has, however, proven to be uninterested in getting SI to a place of balance and fairness toward genuine, historic, balanced Fundamentalism. If memory serves, the very first article at SI when Aaron took over, or was it when he opened 3.0, was a promotion of Calvinism. That settled it for any who might have hoped for a change. SI has, of course, only become more hardened in its bias and favoritism.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing what is the wide spread experience of many who have been driven away from SI by it very own moderators- site and personal biases.


  14. Doug:

    (Shameless plug time)

    If you find this or my other blog helpful may I suggest you share with as many friends and others within your sphere of influence a link to either one.

    There are many who may be encouraged, challenged or edified by any one of the scores of articles on a variety subjects at this blog.


  15. I am confused. Is the "letter from Clearwaters" written by him or Dwight Smith? If Clearwaters, then you should also publish the date of the letter as 2010 is misleading. If Smith, then using CLearwaters name as the author, even with the *, is very misleading.

    1. Thanks for asking. Dwight wrote it. Imo, the *... ensures there is no attempt to mislead. That said, the letter is spot on in regard to what Kevin Bauder was doing, has done, and may still be doing to Central. Tearing Central away from the original moorings established by Dr. Clearwaters.

      Kind regards,